Frank Jurotich –Heart Attack Success Story

Determined to survive

How a little heart pump and a big team worked a miracle for Frank Jurotich

The irony of having a massive heart attack on Good Friday isn’t lost on software engineer Frank Jurotich. The way he sees it, March 25, 2015, really was a good Friday.

Surviving a 100 percent blockage in his right main coronary artery can only be described as remarkable.

At work that day, Frank was talking with a colleague and turned to go back to his office. He took two steps and dropped to the floor.
“Several colleagues had just completed CPR and defibrillator training earlier that very week, and they sprang into action,” Frank says. “The only thing I remember is waking up briefly in the ambulance on the way to Methodist Richardson.”

Frank Jurotich –Heart Attack Success Story
“The fact that I survived has really affected a lot of people I know,” Frank says. “They’ve told me of the diet and exercise changes they too have made, and most of them have been to a cardiologist to get checked out — which is something they wouldn’t have considered until they saw what happened to me. My survival is truly miraculous, and I have a lot of folks to thank for it.”

The fight for Frank’s life

John George, MD, cardiologist on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson Medical Center, says he was surprised to see Frank awake and alert when he arrived at the hospital, considering Frank’s heart had stopped over and over again on the way to the hospital.

“We get him over to the cardiac catheterization lab, and while I’m talking to him, he flat lines again,” Dr. George says. “The EMS team that brought him in stayed to assist, and it’s a good thing they did. We must have used the paddles over 45 times, but we still couldn’t get a sustained heart rhythm, which is necessary to get a catheter in.”

Dr. George started looking for another solution.

“I noticed there was enough of a heart rhythm in between the time the EMS team performed CPR and the time they used the paddles that created regular, 10-second intervals,” Dr. George says. “During those increments, I could try to get the catheter in place.”

Those small windows of time were key to Frank’s survival.

A support device at a crucial moment

With the catheter in place, Dr. George was able to implant the Impella® heart pump — a first at Methodist Richardson. The Impella is a temporary heart pump that essentially keeps the patient alive while the doctor works to restore heart function.

Dr. George gained access to Frank’s arteries and veins, found the blockage in the right coronary artery, and went to work inserting the stent that would restore blood flow and allow Frank’s heart rhythm to stabilize and blood pressure to normalize.

After a grueling three hours in the cath lab, Frank was moved to the intensive care unit and put in an induced hypothermic coma. The coma kept his body temperature intentionally low to aid in recovery.

Not taking life for granted

“When we warmed his body temperature and woke him up, Frank shocked all of us with how alert he was,” Dr. George says. “He had technically been dead for 55 minutes collectively, awakened with no loss in neurologic function, and went home a few days later. He is a very lucky guy.”

But you don’t need to tell Frank that. He knows how remarkable his story is.

Frank has embraced the lifestyle changes that became necessary after his heart attack. He walks a few miles a day, manages his type 2 diabetes, takes the proper medications to help keep his heart function healthy, and has lessened stressors in his life.

From the summer 2017 edition of Shine magazine.