Man suffers heart attack while driving, wife saves his life

Man suffers heart attack while driving, wife saves his life (Image 1)

It's a remarkable story of survival against all odds.

Doctors say a Mt. Juliet man is lucky to be alive and on the road to a full recovery after he suffered a heart attack while driving.

On December 18, 2011, a routine trip to get groceries turned into an unforgettable afternoon for John and Jutta Granger.

“Looking back at it, it still seems very surreal,” Jutta recalled.

While on their way home from Hermitage to Mt. Juliet, Jutta told Nashville's News 2, “I just all of a sudden felt like the car was slowing down and I looked over and saw John was slumped over. I tried to get his attention and tried to wake him again.”

Health officials determined John suffered a heart attack while driving.

John passed out at the wheel before the car veered across oncoming traffic on Andrew Jackson Parkway and slammed into a tree.

“I looked up and saw the tree,” said Jutta, “And thought, good, we're going to stop.”

“Then OnStar came on,” she continued, “And asked me if we had an accident, and I said, ‘Yes, my husband's probably had a heart attack.' They kept getting instructions over the speaker and actually coached me through CPR. I'd never done CPR before.”

John said he does not remember anything from the day of the medical emergency.

“I woke up in the hospital and one of the nurses said, ‘My name is Mary, do you know where you are?' I said, ‘No.' She told me where I was and what happened,” he said.

John woke up in Centennial Hospital at the Heart & Vascular Center, where it was determined he had suffered both a heart attack and stroke while behind the wheel.

Dr. Brian Jefferson, a cardiologist at Centennial, said John's chances of survival were at about five percent.

“I guess you should say he shouldn't be here,” said Dr. Jefferson, “But this is why we do this.”

John was first taken to Summit Medical Center in Hermitage for immediate heart care after emergency personnel arrived at the scene.

At Summit, John was treated with therapeutic hypothermia to minimize brain damage.

John was later transferred to Centennial, where doctors discovered he had serious blockage around the heart and needed to undergo by-pass surgery.

“Dr. Pass graciously performed the surgery on Christmas Eve,” said Jutta, “It was the only Christmas present I ever needed.”

Since the surgery, John has undergone months of physical therapy and his recovery has gone better than anyone expected.

“He's back out dancing,” added Dr. Jefferson, “So you couldn't ask for anything better.”

Jutta also said, “He's doing wonderful, more than anybody had ever expected. It's given me a different outlook, I think it's changed my priorities a lot.”

John will turn 66 on April 30. He told Nashville's News 2 the upcoming birthday means more to him than ever.

“That I'm here is really surprising. I take life more for face value, to enjoy it and live it and be thankful for everything I have.”

John and Jutta hope to meet the paramedics who helped them so they can thank them in person for what they did.

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