Chandler, Ariz — Feb 12, 2019 — Thanks in part to his wife’s life-saving response in the first minutes after suffering a heart attack, Scott Eckenrode has a new outlook on life as he nears his 60th birthday on Valentine’s Day, which happens to be during American Heart Month.
“I'm looking forward to spending the evening with my wife, Sue,” says Scott about his birthday. “I gave her my heart 37 years ago...and she lovingly gave it back to me last August by helping save my life. Together, we're going to celebrate that!”
Sue Eckenrode learned CPR years ago as a Girl Scout leader and never thought she’d need it. That was until her husband, Scott, suffered a heart attack at the couple’s Chandler home last August.
“Learn CPR – it’s necessary,” Sue says. “You never think you’re going to need it. But I needed it and I didn’t freeze.”
At around 11 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2018, the Eckenrodes were watching television in bed. Sue heard Scott make a snoring sound but when she tried to wake him, he was unresponsive. She dialed 911 and began performing CPR with guidance from the 911 dispatcher.
“It had been so long since I learned it that I was afraid I was doing it wrong,” Sue says. “They talked me through it.”
By coincidence, a Chandler Police officer happened to be nearby, and he reached the Eckenrode’s house in five minutes and relieved Sue, continuing CPR until an ambulance arrived. Soon after, Scott was taken to Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center where he went into cardiac arrest in the emergency room. Doctors later found a 30 percent blockage of his arteries, and thankfully determined that he had not suffered brain damage during the heart attack.
“The emergency personnel and the doctors were amazing,” Sue says. “The moon and the stars lined up for us that night. We were so lucky.”
Scott was released from the hospital within a week. He recently received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) that tracks his heart rate and can deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heartbeat. Otherwise, the software developer has returned to his normal life, riding his bike 20 miles per day.
“When you consider the sobering statistics that fewer than 10 percent survive sudden cardiac arrest, I realize just how incredibly blessed I am that Sue was there and we were surrounded by such incredible support,” says Scott. “It's just overwhelming. I quite literally owe my life to them all - the 911 dispatcher, Chandler Police and Fire Departments’ first responders, the Chandler Regional nurses and cardiologists, and Sue's brother and our neighbors. I can’t thank them enough. This American Heart Month, I hope everyone will learn CPR or take a refresher course. Someday, someone you love might depend on it.”