Melissa Dunlay believes she was meant to be at the River Valley Dental Clinic on Jan. 30.
“I definitely think that things lined up for me that day,” said the 40-year-old Saint John area woman.
Dunlay collapsed on her way out of the office, after suffering from cardiac arrest.
A team of bystanders, including staff and a physician from a nearby office, worked to revive her before first responders arrived. The bystanders had used an automated external defibrillator (AED), which had been in the office for only two weeks.
Dunlay and her family, including four children, were back at the clinic Friday to recognize the efforts of the people who were instrumental in saving her life.
Dunlay is the first woman in New Brunswick to have been saved by a public access AED since 2014.
There have been six bystander saves this year alone, according to Ambulance New Brunswick.
It was an emotional time for Dunlay as she heard the efforts that were made to save her.
“Being shocked, so many times, is mind-blowing,” said Dunlay. “Eight times to be paddled and to still be here.”
The emotion spilled over to members of Dunlay’s family.
“Miracles really do happen,” said Dunlay’s mother. “It was a blessing that she’s alive today with her four children and I just want to thank each and every one of you.”
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Dunlay says she had no symptoms and the day of her cardiac arrest was like any other day. She hopes her story will help increase awareness among everyone, especially women.
“Someone who takes care of themselves, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and … I’m active and it can happen to just about anybody.”
Ambulance New Brunswick says there are about 700 registered AEDs in the province, and they hope that number will increase.
“Office buildings, any type of facility where there are numbers of people that are going through any time of the day,” said Mary-Lou Price, coordinator of the province’s Public Access Defibrillator Program.
As it turns out, there was another cardiac event in the same building as the dental clinic within 10 days of Dunlay’s collapse.
Dr. Jeff Clark of the River Valley Dental Clinic says the price of the device is well worth it.
Dunlay has a difibrillator installed in her body. After a battery of tests, there is no indication as of yet what led to her cardiac arrest. She spent three weeks in hospital and is happy to be back home living a normal life again.