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Your Healthy Family: NCH doctor saves man who collapsed at a Naples lounge

Posted at 7:44 AM, Jan 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 11:31:51-05

NAPLES, Fla. — A Naples man was working security at a lounge when he went into sudden cardiac arrest. And a doctor at NCH Healthcare System happened to be right where he was needed.

"I woke up and saw all the pictures, I saw devices all over my body, and my leg’s broken,” 40-year-old Faris Jawad said. "I don't remember anything.”

Jawad is a DJ who also works security at Cavo Lounge in Mercato.

“Normal day. I show up for my shift, and I woke up after five days in the hospital," Jawad said.

He went to on work on October 7th feeling totally normal and said he's never had any health issues.

“I don't even smoke. I don't drink. I drink probably once a month," he said. “I’m healthy, I go to the gym.”

But that night, he collapsed inside Cavo Lounge.

“That was my first day off in a while," Dr. Jose Valle, a Pulmonary Critical Care doctor at NCH Healthcare System, said.

He happened to be at the right place at the right time.

“I hear that they need medical assistance on the left side of the bar. They say, 'Please is there a medical personnel? Please go to the left, we need help.' And as soon as I turned to the left, I found him unresponsive,” Dr. Valle said.

911 was called and Dr. Valle said he got right to work.

“As soon as I found out that he didn't have a pulse, I started CPR,” he said. “The police officer from Cavo, they brought an AED. I shocked him, and I continued doing CPR.”

And the whole thing was caught on video. Dr. Valle worked on Jawad until EMS got there and took him to NCH Downtown Baker Hospital.

"I just woke up after five days in the hospital. I felt like it was a prank or something. And I'm just like what happened to me. I don't believe it!” Jawad said.

And doctors at NCH want to remind you: you don't have to be a doctor or even in the medical field to save someone's life.

“Anybody can learn how to do good CPR. And public places, there is a policy now where they have to have a defibrillator on site," Dr. Viviana Navas, the Section Head for Heart Failure with NCH Healthcare System, said

Dr. Navas said your hands should be laced together at the middle of the sternum, one on top of the other. The chest compression should be 2-2.5 inches deep, and you should do 100 compressions per minute.

"It's extremely important because you want to preserve the organs. If you give good CPR, there won't be any neurological damage, kidneys, liver. Every organ suffers when you don't get good blood flow," Dr. Navas said. “Nothing has shown to work as well as chest compressions.”

And Jawad is proof: good CPR saves lives.

“I’m grateful. I have a second chance in this life," Jawad said.

Doctors in the Emergency Room at NCH Downtown Baker Hospital said it took a lot of work to get Jawad's heart beating once again.

“We went on for about one hour in the cardiac arrest,” Emergency Room Doctor Jeff Panozzo said.

He said he and his team did uninterrupted cardiac compressions, and even used a mechanical CPR device. He said Jawad's heart was in ventricular fibrillation.

“The heart just has all this disorganized electrical activity, and it prevents the heart from squeezing normally,” Dr. Panozzo said.

"They say I got shocked 15 times," Jawad said.

"So what we did is we applied two machines, dual shocks, and we synchronize them immediately, back to back. We did that a number of times, and it was able to get him out of ventricular fibrillation," Dr. Panozzo said.

Finally, Jawad was stabilized.

"It's amazing to see him today," Dr. Panozzo said. "The payback in this job are moments like this. It really is.”

He said a big lesson everyone learned that day is to not quit.

“Never give up. Don't you ever give up,” he said.

“They saved my life. They did everything they could. They never gave up," Jawad said.

Once Jawad was stabilized, his journey to recovery was far from over.

Dr. Valle said most people wouldn't have survived what he went through. Once Jawad was stable, his heart was extremely weak, and he was in a coma.

“He was very sick, on three or four different medications to help the heart. Intubated with a breathing tube, and connected to a ventilator,” Dr. Gaston Cudemus, the Medical Director of Cardiovascular ICU at NCH Healthcare System, said.

He said his team had to install a special device to help Jawad's heart pump blood.

"The heart is like a pump, and the heart receives oxygenated blood on the left ventricle, and sends oxygenated blood out. The left side of the heart was very compromised. So this device, it sits inside of the heart. We come from the groin all the way from the aorta, inside of the heart, and this allow us to blood to move forward,” Dr. Cudemus said.

When his heart started to improve a couple days later, they were able to remove that device and Jawad woke up.

"His heart bounced back really quickly," Dr. Navas said.

But she said his kidneys were without blood for too long, so Jawad had to go on dialysis.

“And they told me I'm probably going to do it for two years, or maybe for life," Jawad said.

But just over a month later, his blood tests were coming back normal, and doctors said he could come off dialysis.

“I’m just doing blood check every week. They make sure my kidney is still normal," he said.

As for the cause of his sudden cardiac arrest, Dr. Navas said they don't know.

"He had an episode of sudden cardiac death, but he had no structural issues with his heart. So it could have been a malignant arrhythmia. Something that happened that day," she said.

She said often times, sudden cardiac arrest can happen with no symptoms beforehand.

"That's why it's called sudden cardiac death. It happens all of the sudden. And in some patients, we can prevent that when we know there is history of coronary artery disease or heart disease. But some patients, like him, with no prior history, it can happen anytime," she said.

Jawad was in the hospital for 21 days. He said his girlfriend Jess was his support, and his daughter Maha gave the him strength to get through it.

“One of the videos, I saw people were screaming ‘Wake up, Faris! You have 12 year old daughter, she needs you.’ and probably that's what made me stay alive," Jawad said.

All of the doctors interviewed for this story want to stress that this was a team effort, including the people at Cavo Lounge who cleared the floor and brought in the AED.