Miracle: Woman survives without a heartbeat - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Miracle: Woman survives without a heartbeat

Christi Nelson survived without a heartbeat for 62 minutes. (Source: WOIO) Christi Nelson survived without a heartbeat for 62 minutes. (Source: WOIO)
She's being called a “miracle” case by those in the medical world. Now 37 year old Christi Nelson, of Akron, has quite the story to share. 

Some would call it a story of divine intervention. In fact, we're told there are no other known or documented cases where someone goes 62 minutes without a heartbeat!! 

That's right. The wife, and now mom was not expected to survive, yet be back to normal functioning as she is today, 8 years later.

She doesn't remember much about her sudden cardiac arrest at age 29. But, so many others, who saved her life remember it all. “I thought, oh God, this person needs help and you need to help me do this,” says nurse Betty Dunton. 

She was the first to run to Christi when she collapsed where she worked then, Akron Children's Hospital. She went down while leaving work in the pedestrian bridge to the parking garage. Betty says she wasn't breathing, she was grey, and she was gasping. 

The nurse started CPR right away until the “code team” arrived and they took over with AED shocks. But, nothing. No pulse. No breathing. No sign of life. Then the paramedics step including Kevin Gostkowski. “She didn't look good when we saw her, “ he says, “we thought there's no way.” 

But, there was also no way they were going to give up as they put on the gurney, with one paramedic on top of her continuing chest compressions as they maneuver her through the halls, even down a flight of stairs. Still, he explains she shows no signs or coming to. 

He explains they did all they could and would continue until they could at least get her to Akron General's E.R. where her family could meet her to say good-bye. So when he and his three colleagues dropped her lifeless body off, they figured that was the end of the line. They were wrong. 

When they brought in another patient that night, they asked about Christi expecting to hear the worst. Not the case. Her heartbeat came back in the E-R. 62 minutes after it stopped.

To this day Christi's eyes fill with tears when talking about it. So many emotions hit her. Most of all though she's filled with gratitude knowing it would've just taken one person working on her to give up, to say enough, she's gone from the nurse who first got to her to the E-R staff. She calls them all her heroes, “they'll never know what they mean to me, they'll never know. I'm so grateful.”

So her days now are filled with being a busy wife and mom, working as a behavior specialist with autistic children and visiting her cardiologist. Akron General's Dr. Robert Schweikert sees her on a regular basis. 

He's been with her for years now as she went through a number of procedures to ensure her heart never stops again. As he looks at the monitor showing her heartbeat he smiles, telling her “the heart rhythm looks great today.”

As for how this happened in the first place, he says for some reason her heart was weakened. No one has been able to determine why. But, why she's still here, she says it's clearly God's plan. 

"I tell everyone I know I have a purpose here, I don't want to miss that chance so I live life to the fullest.”

One more note, her doctor points out 9 out of 10 people who suffer what she did, sudden cardiac arrest, don't even survive a few minutes..yet 62! He's the first to use the word “miracle.”

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