Patient Stories-Purnanshu

About 95% of sudden cardiac arrest patients die before reaching the hospital.

I am not a statistic.
“I collapsed in the street outside my workplace. My life was saved by a coworker who gave me CPR and the paramedic who used a defibrillator. I am Purnanshu, and I’m grateful for a second chance at life.”

Purnanshu’s Story

Sudden cardiac arrest survivor owes his second chance at life to coworkers and passersby

On April 9, 2002 Purnanshu was on the way to an appointment when he collapsed in the street outside his workplace. He is alive today because of the quick thinking of others. A coworker on his lunch break and a stranger began CPR while another passerby called 911. Within 10 minutes, the paramedics arrived and, using a portable device called an automatic external defibrillator, shocked his heart to get it beating again. Purnanshu regained consciousness in the emergency room of George Washington University Hospital. He was in grave condition. 

Purnanshu, then 52, had suffered sudden cardiac arrest. With little warning, his heartbeat abruptly stopped due to a malfunction in his heart’s electrical system. Physicians at GW determined that he had a major blockage at the junction of three of his coronary arteries. In a matter of hours, Purnanshu was undergoing heart-bypass surgery.

“I was in the hospital for four days and then recovered at home for seven weeks,” he says. “It was a hard recovery, but now I feel very good.”

In the five years since he suffered sudden cardiac arrest, Purnanshu, a civil engineer for the DC Metro system, has returned to a diet more like the one he grew up on in India. “I was hooked on cookies. I ate them everyday for years. But not anymore.”

He has also eliminated most prepared and fried foods, opting instead for vegetables, fruit, and grilled chicken or fish. “I allow myself a cookie about once every six months. Changing my diet, exercising regularly, and taking my medications, all together, have raised my good cholesterol and lowered the bad cholesterol.

“This is a second chance at life,” says Purnanshu. “I’m taking better care of myself this time.”