Man revived after 40 minutes with no pulse

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Florida man recently made a successful run in a Region 8 marathon.  Instead of celebrating with a trip to the showers he wound up in the hospital!

67-year-old Bill Zahler had just finished running 26.2 miles in the Mid-south Championship Marathon in Wynne.

"It happened five steps after I finished the race," said Zahler.

Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Barry Tedder said Zahler didn't have a pulse for nearly 40-minutes.  During that time compressions kept blood flow to his brain.  CPR was performed at the race, but with no working defibrillator he was taken to the hospital and then flown to St. Bernards.

"What we've seen in the past if somebody doesn't have a pulse for really 10 to 15 minutes, their chance of waking up is really low," said Dr. Tedder.

Dr. Tedder knew chances for full recovery were slim but he was ready to try a new procedure called Therapeutic Hyperthermia.  Tedder said European studies show lowering body temperature helps protect brain cells and can help a patient wake up.  They use cooling blankets hooked up to a machine that runs cooled water in and out keeping the patient at a steady temperature.

"I didn't think he would probably wake up or if he did he would be limited.  Forty-five minutes is just an extremely long time," said Dr. Tedder.

Zahler did wake up.  While he doesn't remember coming to Region 8 or running the race he will remember this visit.

"I really had no symptoms of cardiac problems. I didn't, I didn't.  I run normally 35 miles a week," said Zahler.

Zahler not only finished the race, he finished with a third place trophy.

"I ran within one minute of my best marathon time ever," said Zahler.

He said he's thankful he was able to finish the race because finishing may have helped save his life.

"If this event had have happened in the race at mile nine or mile twenty or so where there is no medical care I would have died because they wouldn't have gotten to me soon enough," said Zahler.

As for picking up his running habit in the future, Zahler said he's not sure.

This is the first time the Dr. Tedder and his team have done this procedure on a cardiac patient.  The body temperature is lowered to between 32 and 34 degrees Celsius and kept that way for 24 hours.

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