Woman’s Recovery From 26-Minute Cardiac Arrest Amazes

By Jonah Lustig

May 9, 2014 3:14pm

An emergency room doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, is in awe after a patient emerged healthy following 26 minutes in which her heart could not function on its own.

Dr. Kurt Solem says it is astounding that pet groomer Debbie Biggles is alive and well after undergoing an unusually lengthy period of cardiac arrest.  “It’s a miracle that she survived and is doing as well as she is,” he told ABC News.

Solem says Biggles was unable to pump oxygen from her heart to her brain for 26 minutes during her heart attack.  Because the brain is highly sensitive to oxygen deprivation, the chances of her emerging from the incident without brain damage were nothing short of incredible.

“I’ve been around for 25 years and haven’t heard of something like this. She didn’t show any signs of neurological function. It’s remarkable that she didn’t suffer damage,” he said.

Solem credits the efforts of first responders for saving Biggles’ life. One of those responders was Chelsea Loucks, a coworker of Biggles’ at Kosmo’s Doghouse in Scottsdale. Chelsea encountered Biggles unconscious on the floor and performed CPR for the first time since she was trained in high school.

“She was on her side, face down. She looked blue and purple…it seemed like she was gone,” she told ABC News.  “I’ve practiced [CPR] on dummies but I never I thought I would have to do it on a real person.”  

Loucks says she sang the Bee-Gees hit song Stayin’ Alive while performing CPR, as she was trained to do to keep a steady rhythm while providing chest compressions.

“That’s how they trained us to do CPR, to the beat of the song,” she said.

The song’s title aptly described Biggles’ circumstance. Dr. Solem says the patient is in good condition, and Loucks says she has already visited with her as she recovers at the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. ABC News could not reach Biggles for comment.

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Debbie Biggles is in stable condition after losing heart function for 26 minutes (Credit: KPHO).

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