A 60- to 70-hour workweek is typical for 41-year-old Victor Davis, a senior operations manager for Amazon. It’s no wonder he falls into a deep sleep each night. The problem for his wife Sandra, a self-professed light sleeper, is the snoring that comes with it. On July 24, 2013, Sandra was never more thankful for their sleeping style combination.
Sandra was already in bed when Victor turned in that night. It had been a busy day—Victor, Sandra and their three children, Kaylee, 19, Emma, 10, and Dekker, 2, were still settling into their new home after moving from Riverside, Calif., to Brownsburg, Ind.
At 12:30 am, Victor’s snoring, louder than usual, woke up Sandra. Her well-placed elbow, which usually did the trick, and telling him to wake up, didn’t stop the snoring, however.
“He didn’t wake up,” she recalls. “I immediately knew something was wrong.”
Sandra turned on the light and saw that she was right. Victor was curled into a fetal position; the snoring was actually gurgling sounds and he had no pulse. She called 911 while running to wake daughter Emma.
The operator asked Sandra if she could move Victor, who was lying in the middle of their king-sized bed, to the floor. “I’m 5’5’’ and 112 pounds and Victor is 6’1” and 220 pounds,” says Sandra. “I know God gave me the strength because I didn’t drag him; I picked him up.”
She began CPR and within six minutes of making the call, paramedics arrived. For the next 40 minutes, Sandra alternated between keeping vigil with her girls in Kaylee’s basement bedroom, and checking on Victor. After 40 minutes of CPR and several attempts to shock Victor’s heart into starting, Sandra’s prayers were answered with a paramedic’s shout, “We’ve got him!”
Putting confidence in the “best heart hospital in Indiana”
Soon after, they rushed Victor to Indiana University West Hospital in Avon, Ind., where tests confirmed he had suffered a cardiac arrest. His heart had stopped, but doctors weren’t sure why. Sandra also learned that once paramedics had gotten Victor’s heart started, they had given him an injection to begin the process of therapeutic hypothermia a treatment that cools the body to slow or prevent brain injury that can occur due to lack of oxygen during a cardiac arrest.
Victor was transferred to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital and doctors used special cooling pads around his trunk and legs to continue slowly lowering Victor’s body temperature by six degrees, a process that takes 24 hours.
Because they were still new to the area, Sandra looked for assurances that Victor was at the right hospital for his condition.
“Several doctors and nurses told me we were at the best heart hospital in Indiana,” says Sandra. “I also learned that IU Health Methodist Hospital is one of the highest volume centers for hypothermia post cardiac arrest in the country and has treated more patients using that procedure than any other hospital in the state.”
Victor’s body was kept cool for 24 hours and then slowly rewarmed to normal temperature over the next 24 hours. Doctors told Sandra they wouldn’t know until then whether Victor had suffered brain damage.
“I had peace in my heart about it,” says Sandra. “I just wanted him any way I could get him, no matter the outcome.”
At 5:00 am the next day, Victor’s body had warmed to its normal temperature and he was awake, following his nurse’s commands, blinking once for “yes,” twice for “no.” By noon, he was off the ventilator and standing with help from physical therapists ... with no signs of brain damage.
After six days, Victor was scheduled to go home. Although doctors believed sleep apnea was the cause of Victor’s cardiac arrest, one of them believed something else was going on. Fortunately, he had a cardiologist review Victor’s test results, because further tests revealed that Victor had ventricular tachycardia (VT), a life-threatening rapid, irregular heartbeat.
The next day, the cardiologist implanted a defibrillator to monitor Victor’s heartbeat, and if necessary, deliver an electrical impulse to restore a regular rhythm. It was the last piece in his life-saving treatment.
Sandra says the assurances staff gave her when she and Victor arrived at IU Health Methodist Hospital were justified. “Everyone I interacted with was amazing,” she says. “It truly was the best place for him to be.”
Though Victor’s grateful to be back to his regular life—full work schedule, exercise, no diet restrictions—he doesn’t remember anything about his treatment until the fifth day of his hospital stay. That doesn’t bother him in the least.
“I’m the type of person who tends to look forward, rather than backward,” he says. “I’m looking forward to living.”