Victorian Member of Parliament – Sudden Cardiac Arrest: ‘I was dead for three minutes’
Geelong Advertiser recently published the following article outlining the dramatic circumstances surrounding Victorian Sports Minister John Eren’s death from sudden cardiac arrest – and resuscitation – thanks to the efforts of Geelong Hospital’s medical team, aided by a defibrillator. Read on for Danny Lannon’s full article, or view the original article here.
Geelong’s Lara MP John Eren tells all: `I was dead for three minutes’
VICTORIAN Sport Minister John Eren says there’s nothing like dying to bring you back down to earth with a thud. He’s been there, dead for three minutes. Perhaps all that brought him back was that his heart stopped in the waiting room at Geelong Hospital. “I didn’t see it, I was dead,” he said of his dramatic resuscitation.
Mr Eren, 52, collapsed after having experienced acute chest pain which prompted him to cut short a family Father’s Day trip to Melbourne. “It was a bit excruciating, it was like a samurai warrior with a sword trying to get out of your chest and an elephant sitting on it preventing him,” he said.
He had felt guilty going straight to the window in the busy emergency waiting room but felt life literally slipping away as he awaited assessment. “It just felt so scary, you feel so vulnerable, you feel exposed,” Mr Eren said. “You feel like you’re a bystander and that you can’t do anything even though you know that there’s this struggle of life and death going on within you. And your reinforcements are the nurses and the doctors and the medications that you get to make you survive through this.”
One of Mr Eren’s heart arteries was about 90 per cent blocked. His wife Geraldine and two of his five children, sons Enes, 27, and Adam, 16, were by his side.
“You can feel the body’s going through this trauma and you just want to survive it and you don’t know exactly what’s going on because you’ve never experienced that pain before,” he said. “You feel hot and cold. You feel like you’re sweating, you feel like you want to vomit, you’re nauseated and generally then you start to panic. Panic sets in because you know that there’s something dramatically wrong and so then you think oh, is this it? “Where to from here?”
There and back for him.
Immediate cardio pulmonary resuscitation, then defibrillation and then insertion of a stent saved him and yesterday he returned to Geelong hospital’s emergency department and cardiac ward to deliver a gift and say profound thanks for the gift of life.
He greeted the emergency staff who provided the first response — registered nurses Bron Bohan and Lisa Woodmason, associate nurse manager Audra Mee and clinical nurse specialist Rhoda Jamieson — and then cardiac catheterisation lab staff including cardiologist Dr Adam Hutchison, who installed his stent and radiographer Michelle Viken.
Smiles and exclamations accompanied his tour, with all staff remarking how well he looked.
“This is my 20th year in the cath lab, and this is why I do it,” Ms Viken said. “(Mr Eren) came in so sick. I remember saying he’s so lucky.”
Mr Eren, also Member for Lara and Minister for Veterans and Tourism and Major Events, said his seizure came without warning but he had been feeling tired during his busy work and regular exercise schedules through the previous six months. A chest cold with coughing in the approaching weeks might have masked any earlier heart pain. Though he was physically fit and careful in diet he estimates genetics might have played part. His mother had a triple bypass at 52 and a brother had a heart attack and surgery at 53.
He described his Geelong hospital care as “flawless, faultless, just tremendous in every way” and urged people, particularly men, to take care of their heart health and visit GPs for check-ups. Mr Eren said he was deeply grateful for all of the care and good wishes which came his way, particularly from constituents and now, back firing on six full cylinders, he plans to return to his parliamentary portfolios on November 13.
As Minister for Sport he is overseeing delivery of 1000 defibrillators to sporting clubs and figures his next presentation might be particularly meaningful. Mr Eren said his experience had clearly heightened his love and appreciation for life.
“Previously you don’t notice the birds in the background chirping,” he said. “It has changed me, I think it has. There’s nothing like bringing you back down to earth with a big thud than dying. You can be flying high one minute and next minute you’re on the ground dead.”