Calgary surgeon saves 2 with CPR, operates on them later: ‘What the heck is just happening here?’

Click to play video: 'Calgary cardiologist and physician wife save 2 strangers months apart'
Calgary cardiologist and physician wife save 2 strangers months apart
WATCH: It was a chance encounter that turned out to be a life saver. A healthy, 30-something Albertan nearly died after suffering a heart episode. But as Jill Croteau reports, he was rescued by the most perfect strangers – Nov 9, 2021

Dr. Corey Adams should perhaps buy himself a superhero costume.

Adams, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Calgary’s Libin Cardiovascular Institute, has saved two men in the past 18 months by first performing CPR on them in public and then, days later, operating on them.

In June of last year, Adams and his wife Jennifer, who’s also a doctor, were hiking near Canmore, Alta., when someone called for help. A man had collapsed and was turning blue.

Adams did 20 minutes of CPR on the 60-year-old man. Days later, a patient on whom he was performing a quintuple heart bypass turned out to be the same man.

It happened again in August.

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The Adamses were on an outing with their children when Jennifer Adams spotted a man who had collapsed while running.

“He was face down. Nobody else was around and we pulled over. He didn’t have a pulse, so I started CPR and we called people and all that stuff,” Corey Adams told The Canadian Press on Monday.

“If he (had been) 10 feet down the road or in the woods … nobody would have seen him and they would have found him dead.”

The patient, Eric McVeigh, 34, was born with a heart defect.

“The odds are astronomically not in favour of it. Eric is really lucky,” Corey Adams said. “Having a valve that doesn’t open properly, to come back from CPR and then not have a neurological problem is really rare.”

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McVeigh recalled his memory about that run.

“I really kind of lost my breath and had to stop fully and went over to the side of the path. I figured this is nothing … I started running again and that’s the last thing I remember,” he said from Edmonton.

“The next thing I remember, I woke up in the emergency room of Foothills Hospital (in Calgary) surrounded by doctors.”

McVeigh had a valve replacement, performed by Adams, and is still taking physiotherapy.

“I feel incredibly lucky that someone was there to give me CPR (who) just happened to be an expert.”

Adams, who is encouraging everyone to learn CPR, said he’s been teased by colleagues who say he is busy enough that he shouldn’t have to drive around looking for new patients.

He laughs off the good-natured jibes, but admits the double experience is a bit strange.

“If you look at life being like a small world, and it happens one time … but the second time? Jen and I were like, ‘What the heck is just happening here?”’


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