George’s Story: From Clinical Death to Miraculous Recovery

George Hunter given CPR by bystanders during cardiac arrest saving his life

In October 2023, George Hunter went into full cardiac arrest while at his job, and not just once, but several times.

“They told me I died six times that day,” says George.

George, 47, lives in Pullman, MI, with his wife, Mary, and works for a local beer distributor. He was unloading cases of beer at a local gas station when he suddenly slumped over, hitting his head on a nearby cooler.

Thankfully, a gas station attendant and a passer-by acted quickly and began to perform CPR as someone else called 911. Fifteen minutes later, EMTs arrived and took over. They continued performing CPR, shocked George with an AED and administered intravenous medication as they transported George to Holland Hospital.

George had experienced a kind of heart attack known as the widowmaker. “They said his left (coronary) artery was 100% blocked,” says Mary.

Swift communication and coordinated care between EMTs and Holland Hospital ensured George's rapid stabilization. The presence of a state-of-the-art Cath Lab here in the community provided the opportunity for lifesaving treatment—a crucial factor in his timely intervention—and successful stent placement by local Interventional Cardiologist Marcel Letourneau, DO, and the Cath Lab team.

“The doctors didn't know how much oxygen his brain had lost,” says Mary. “They informed us that it was possible he might not wake up, and if he did, he would probably not be the same, but when they started to wean him off the sedatives, George woke up and began to talk. He even got up and started walking.”

George’s heart attack happened on October 10. Incredibly, he was out of the hospital by October 16, a recovery time that’s extremely rare. Within a month, George’s heart was once again functioning at full capacity. For the first few weeks after being discharged, George went through Holland Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program, which helps patients learn how to take control of and improve their cardiac health. George was also followed by Holland Hospital’s Transitional Heart Failure Program (THFP) for a month after his release from the hospital.

"THFP is a free readmission prevention program that offers comprehensive care to patients for 30 days after their hospital stay,” says Ronnie Richards, RN, manager, Post Acute Care Programs. “The program includes home telemonitoring, nursing calls, cardiology follow-up, assistance obtaining medications and similar services to help patients make the critical transition from hospital to home."

Six weeks after his heart attack, George’s doctor released him to go back to work.

“I had an excellent experience with Holland Hospital,” says George. “The doctors explained things so everybody could understand and went above and beyond.”

According to Mary, George’s story serves as two important reminders: first, listen to your body and pay attention to it. Second, don’t lose hope. “I honestly believe in the power of prayer and family,” says Mary. “Never give up, no matter what.”

Where can I learn more?

Learn more about Holland Hospital’s comprehensive cardiology and vascular services from prevention and diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation and after care.

Would you know how to properly perform CPR in an emergency? It’s easy to learn this lifesaving skill. Holland Hospital offers courses. Register for a CPR class today.