Twenty-one. That's the number of times that Randy Setzer died and was brought back as Emergency Department staff at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire worked to save him after he suddenly fainted one day at work. "The ER staff worked for roughly two hours doing CPR, and they said I would go on them, and they would do CPR, and I would come back for a couple minutes," he says. "And according to Mayo's records, I had passed on 21 times."
When Randy's wife, Crystal, got to the Emergency Room, doctors told her she had a decision to make. "The pulmonary doctor came out and told me it doesn't look good," she says. Her husband had suffered a pulmonary embolism and had massive blood clots blocking both sides of his pulmonary artery. "He said, 'Mrs. Setzer you need to make a choice. We either stop CPR and just let him go or try' … I think it was called … an emergency pulmonary embolectomy. But he said, 'Mrs. Setzer I want you to be prepared that your husband probably won't survive it.'"
But he did survive, against all odds. "When surgery was finished, Dr. (Robert) Wiechmann came into the waiting room and said, 'He's alive,'" Crystal says, adding that Dr. Wiechmann "never took his eyes off" the heart monitor Randy was hooked up to after surgery. "He just shook his head and said, 'It's perfect. There's no damage.'"
Randy and Crystal's story is part of a story-telling collaboration between Mayo Clinic and StoryCorps, "one of the largest oral history projects of its kind," to honor Mayo's 150th Anniversary. StoryCorps participants are encouraged to share stories from personal experiences that "describe vivid memories or reflections on the impact of significant people or events." (You know, like having been revived 21 times.) Each interview session is then recorded and "added to the StoryCorps Archive, which is housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress."
The Mayo Clinic/StoryCorps stories will be posted each Friday morning on the Mayo Clinic News Network from now through the end of December. (Watch for them on Facebook and Twitter, too.) If you have access to Mayo’s intranet, you can read more about Randy Setzer’s story there.
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