In a hospital room at Kingston General Hospital, Nabil Hawwa and Jim Morgan reconnect after a trip to the grocery store turned into an event neither will ever forget.
Hawwa, a second-year medical student at Queen’s University, and his partner Alexandra Morra, a third-year medical student and former nurse, were both in aisle five of Loblaws at the Kingston Centre on Feb. 1 when they suddenly saw Morgan collapsed.
“I just fell on the floor with no pulse, I don’t know anything until I woke up at Kingston General Hospital,” Morgan, 66, told Global News.
A nursing student who was also in the store sprang into action alongside the couple to assess and assist Morgan.
The students asked for the store’s automated external defibrillator and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
“I think one thing that really freaked me out, maybe more so than feeling for a pulse and not feeling anything, was shining a flashlight in his eyes and seeing that his eyes weren’t reacting,” Hawwa said.
“This told us that something severe enough was happening that it’s not causing any blood to go to his brain.”
The students shocked Morgan with the store’s AED, and once paramedics arrived, he was shocked again.
Morgan had suffered a cardiac arrest and required triple bypass surgery.
Hawwa and Morra were able to check up on Morgan once he was stabilized in hospital.
“One of the cardiologists told Alex that it’s one of the best post-cardiac arrest outcomes that they’ve ever seen,” Hawwa said.
“It was really a magical moment to see that all the years it took to get here, and all the times you had to fail and struggle, were all worth it.”
Morgan says the day of his cardiac arrest was just like any other and he felt perfectly fine.
He lives alone and says had he not been shopping during his heart attack, he might not have survived.
“Once your heart stops, you’re denying oxygen to the brain, you’re going into decline right in that moment, so to have someone there is amazing really and it did save my life,” Morgan said.
Morgan says he is recovering well and hopes to be discharged soon.
As for the students who saved his life, they say it’s an experience they won’t ever forget.
“I kind of want to put it in a box somewhere in my mind so when things get tough, which they will inevitably get tough, I can pull this out and say, ‘I did something great in this moment.'”