Nurse rescues motorist after heart attack

July 17, 2012 3:09:15 PM PDT
Gerald Boekeloo suffered a heart attack while driving on the city's Southwest Side. Another motorist stopped, administered CPR then took off without leaving her name. On Thursday, they were reunited.

Boekeloo says he could hardly sleep Thursday night, thinking about the moment he would finally meet his guardian angel.

"I looked high and low and found out a little while back the whole story, and here I am, ready to meet her," said Boekeloo.

Advocate Christ Medical Center helped him in his search. Boekeloo was brought there after suffering a massive heart attack last November as he was driving in Oak Lawn. Some passers-by pulled him out of his car right in the middle of 95th Street and Cicero Avenue. One of them administered CPR until paramedics arrived then disappeared. That meant the difference between life and death.

Since then, Boekeloo has been trying to track down his life saver. And finally, they met Tuesday.

"I held up pretty good today 'cause I'm kind of a sissy," said Boekeloo. "I cry when I watch Rin Tin Tin."

Dawn Busone-Gazda is a nurse at Christ Medical Center who happened to drive by as Boekeloo was being helped out of his car.

"At that time, I realized he had no pulse and he was in cardiac arrest so I started doing CPR and a couple times, you did have a pulse," Busone-Gazda

She left and wondered what happened to him. It wasn't until she happened to walk in his hospital room a short time afterwards and heard him tell his story that she realized he was the person she rescued. Being modest, she didn't let him know at the time.

"I have to thank you. This is the reason I became a nurse and thank you for helping me remember that," said Busone-Gazda.

Busone-Gazda won the hospital's MVP award after a friend told management about her actions.

Boekeloo has been diagnosed with a failing heart, and his doctors say he's here today because of Busone-Gazda's help.

"If Dawn had not been there and resuscitated him, it's unlikely that he would have survived," said Dr. Geetha Bhat, cardiologist.

A few months ago, Boekeloo's doctors implanted an assist device that acts like a mechanical pump to support his weak heart. He can live with that device for several years. He is on the list for a heart transplant, but that could also take a while.


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