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Reunion for doctor who saved life on subway

October 22, 2009 7:08:56 AM PDT
A remarkable reunion for the man who nearly died after his heart stopped on a rush-hour subway train and the doctor and several others who saved his life. And 50-year-old Michael Kiernan of Long Beach is just lucky to be alive. After all what are the odds of going into cardiac arrest on the subway and having a cardiologist who happens to be sitting in the very next seat?

"I really have a second chance at life here," says Kiernan. He adds, "I cheated death really."

When Mr. Kiernan collapsed on the floor of the A train headed southbound from 125 street, Dr. Sonia Tolani a cardiac fellow at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center just happened to have left her job early that day.

"It was just fate. I would have never been on a train at 4:30 p.m.," she said.

Good samaritan Anthony Medaglia also left his job early and was able to help the doctor perform CPR all the way down to 59th street.

"And we just continued CPR chest compressions the whole way down," says Medaglia.

The doctor says she knew she needed a defibrillator and fortunately Columbus Circle happens to be one of five subway stops in Manhattan that has one, and one of three transit cops on duty sprung into action.

"We shocked him again and he gasped for air and his eyes started moving and it was a great feeling," says Officer Joesph Dellau.

Ironically, October happens to be Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month and perhaps no one is more aware of the importance of CPR than Mr.. Kiernan himself

He now has a small defibrillator implanted in his chest, just in case this happens again.

His doctor at the Perelman Heart Institute at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell tells Eyewitness News Kiernan had what's called primary arrhythmic arrest.

"Meaning that he was not in the midst of a heart attack he actually just experienced a lethal heart rhythm," said Dr. Robert Kim.

Kiernan's girlfriend is certainly thankful since six years ago, she lost her husband to sudden cardiac arrest.

Now Kiernan alive and well goes home with heartfelt thanks knowing that for all these reasons it just wasn't his time to go.

Web Produced By: Scott Curkin

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