A Madera man gets a second chance at life, defying the odds after having a major heart attack.
Doctors say the patient's heart had stopped for ten minutes without receiving CPR.
Although his chances of surviving were slim, innovative technology at Fresno's Community Regional Medical Center is allowing this patient's heart to keep beating.
Jon Albonico, 61, of Madera, is taking life day-by-day after surving a major heart attack three weeks ago.
When he started having chest pains, his wife rushed him to the hospital.
But Albonico went into cardiac arrest at his wife's side who was driving him.
"It's a totally helpless feeling. I just kept thinking no, no, no, no. This can't happen," Anita Albonico says.
Doctors regained a weak pulse and told Anita that her husband probably wouldn't make it.
"He was down for more than 10 minutes. So whenever you are in that condition, they [doctors] should determine whether the patient has any brain function left--is he brain dead," says Dr. Pervaiz Chaudhry, Albonico's doctor.
The heart attack destroyed Albonico's left ventricle, which pumps oxygenated blood to the whole body. Without it, a person can't survive.
But with the Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD), a mechanical heart pump is essentially pumping life into Albonico's body.
"This is the HeartMate II. This is the pump. This is the power line on it. That's the only thing that comes out of the patient. Everything else stays in," Chaudhry says while holding the LVAD and explaining how it functions.
Chaudry says CRMC was the first hospital in the Central Valley to use this kind of technology. Doctors here have performed about 20 of these procedures in about two years.
The technology is fairly new, and expensive--costs can reach about a quarter million dollars, including the technology and the procedures involved.
For the Albonicos, this means more than words can describe.
"He's alive again, because he died in the car next to me on the way to the hospital in Madera," Anita says.
"I think it's a miracle that I get a second chance," Jon says.
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