By Adrienne Leyva
AUSTIN, Texas – (July 7, 2015) – Self-defense enthusiast Ken Jones was 49 and in good shape. Two to three times a week for the past seven years, he practiced Krav Maga, a unique self-defense and hand-to-hand combat technique.
But during a lunchtime workout earlier this year, the last thing Jones recalls saying was, “I hate these burpees.” Then he fell hard to the floor.
“My workout partner, Luis, who is a former Marine, told me that at first he thought I was joking, but then he saw my lips were purple,” Jones, a father of two boys, said. “It was serious.”
Serious as a heart attack – the kind often called a “widow maker.”
Luis began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a fellow classmate started rescue breathing. When an ambulance crew arrived, it took three electrical shocks with “the paddles” to restart Jones’ heart.
When he arrived at the emergency department at University Medical Center Brackenridge, Jones was responsive and told the doctors he was having a lot of trouble breathing. His lungs on the X-ray were completely white, indicating they were full of fluid.
“That’s certainly not what you want to see,” he said. “Those were very tense, very serious moments for me and my wife, Amy. I was intubated at that point.”
Jones’ heart held a silent threat. Over time, plaque had collected in his left anterior descending artery – the artery with the dubious distinction of “widow maker” due to low survival rates following heart attacks.
A portion of plaque in the artery wall had ruptured, followed by a clotting frenzy as his body naturally tried to heal the damage. The clot had suddenly cut off blood supply to Jones’ heart.
“If I had not been around people ready and willing to act, like Luis, this would have been a very different outcome,” Jones said. “And had I not been taken to UMC Brackenridge so quickly and surrounded by an expert team, including interventional cardiologist Dr. Osvaldo Gigliotti, I wouldn’t be here. The Brack team was on it.”
Gigliotti placed a stent to open up Jones’ blocked artery. He recovered in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a few days. His incisions took time to clot as a result of the blood thinners he was taking.
“Those nurses in the ICU were always monitoring me, there by my side holding pressure to help stop the bleeding,” Jones recalled. “They don’t always get the thanks they deserve, but I won’t forget them or their faces.”
Jones was ready to go home only four days after his heart attack. Amazingly, he started back to work part-time three days later.
He then started a new workout – cardiac rehabilitation – where the treadmill, bike and elliptical machine were his companions three days a week. He changed his diet too, and proudly shares that he’s now at the same weight he was in high school.
“For some reason I was kept around and am blessed to have been given a second chance,” Jones said. “I come to work happier and don’t let the small stuff get to me. Every day, I tell my sons, Matt and Josh, and Amy, that I love them. I take time to take in life. I’m a happy person, and full of gratitude for the great care I got at UMC Brackenridge.”
Less than two months after his ordeal, Jones was able to celebrate his 50th birthday with his wife and kids, dad, brother and extended family. He ordered a salad with grilled chicken. And he was happy.
The expert care Ken Jones received at UMC Brackenridge will soon make its new home at Dell Ascension Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, Ascension Seton’s new teaching hospital. Your gifts to help build Dell Ascension Seton Medical Center at UT will help write more life-saving stories like Ken’s.