David Bekker, 61, is a seasoned runner with the Boston Marathon under his belt. But in the fall of last year, he suffered a dangerous cardiac event while out for a run alone.
Thanks to the quick response of bystanders and excellent care from the staff at Holland Hospital, Bekker is recovering well and getting back to his active lifestyle – one step at a time.
Cardiac Arrest and CPR
In the fall of 2022, Bekker was training to run the Chicago Marathon but came down with a virus that caused him to miss several days of training. After he recovered, he decided not to run the marathon. Unfortunately, the virus had done more than interrupt his training schedule – it had also weakened his heart.
On October 29, Bekker suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while out for a run and was discovered by a couple who found him on the ground, unconscious, and called 9-1-1. The dispatcher walked them through CPR and told them not to stop until EMS took over.
“About 400,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year, and only about 10% of people survive,” says William Frauenheim, MD, a board-certified cardiologist with Holland Hospital. “Of those, the vast majority are witnessed. That David survived an unwitnessed outpatient cardiac arrest is remarkable.”
According to Dr. Frauenheim, Bekker survived thanks to the quick actions of the couple who discovered him.
“Less than 40% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests get CPR prior to the arrival of EMS,” says Dr. Frauenheim. “We need more CPR awareness to save these people.”
Care at Holland Hospital
EMS arrived on the scene and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock and restart Bekker’s heart. He was transported to Holland Hospital but coded again in the emergency room (ER). A shot of epinephrine restarted his heart once more, and he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“My time in the ICU was amazing,” says Bekker. “People told me they prayed for me – that's not part of the job description. I can't say enough good things about them.”
About a month later, David visited Holland Hospital’s ER and ICU to thank the staff that had cared for him and was touched by their genuine happiness to see him.
“One of the doctors told me they were just doing their job,” said Bekker. “Without all these people doing their part, I wouldn't be here today.”
Road to Recovery
Bekker now has a biventricular pacemaker to protect his heart. He’s recovering through Holland Hospital's cardiac rehabilitation program, which helps patients gradually and safely increase exercise. He has worked his way from 10-minute walks to walking 42 miles in a single week and says rehab is going exceptionally well.
“It seems to me like God said, ‘I have a plan and it's not his time yet’,” says Bekker. “I've been given another chance, and I'm going to make the most of it.”
As an 8th-grade teacher, Bekker says he wants to take several important messages back to his classroom. “When you’re taught CPR, really pay attention,” he says. “Make sure you take time out for the people in your life and don’t be afraid to say ‘thank you’.”
“Holland Hospital’s staff did so much for me, my family and my friends,” says Bekker. “They deserve to hear a great, big, sincere ‘thank you’ for everything.”
Where can I learn more?
Holland Hospital experts offer comprehensive, award-winning cardiology and vascular services, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment, rehabilitation and home health.
To make sure you know what to do during a cardiac event, register for a CPR classes through Holland Hospital.