Calgary surgeon saves 2 men with CPR, then performs their heart operations

Dr. Corey Adams should perhaps buy himself a superhero costume.

A cardiac surgeon at the University of Calgary’s Libin Cardiovascular Institute, Adams has saved two men in the past 18 months — by first performing CPR on them in public and then, days later, operating on them.

In June of last year, Adams and his wife, Jennifer, who’s also a doctor, were hiking near Canmore, Alta., when someone called for help. A man had collapsed and was turning blue.

Adams did 20 minutes of CPR on the 60-year-old. Days later, a patient on whom he was performing a quintuple heart bypass turned out to be the same man.

Then it happened again in August.

The couple was on an outing with their children when Jennifer Adams spotted a man who had collapsed while running.

“He was face down. Nobody else was around and we pulled over. He didn’t have a pulse, so I started CPR and we called people and all that stuff,” Corey Adams told The Canadian Press.

“If he [had been] 10 feet down the road or in the woods … nobody would have seen him and they would have found him dead.”

The patient, Eric McVeigh, was born with a heart defect.

Eric McVeigh is lucky to be alive after he collapsed while running in Calgary in August. Adams and his wife, Jennifer, spotted McVeigh and performed CPR on him until he was taken to hospital. Adams then performed his heart surgery days later. (Submitted by Eric McVeigh, via The Canadian Press)

“The odds are astronomically not in favour of it. Eric is really lucky,” Corey Adams said. “Having a valve that doesn’t open properly, to come back from CPR and then not have a neurological problem is really rare.”

McVeigh, 34, recalled his memory about that run.

“I really kind of lost my breath and had to stop fully and went over to the side of the path. I figured this is nothing.… I started running again and that’s the last thing I remember,” he said, speaking from Edmonton.

“The next thing I remember, I woke up in the emergency room of Foothills Hospital [in Calgary] surrounded by doctors.”

McVeigh had a valve replacement, performed by Adams, and is still taking physiotherapy.

“I feel incredibly lucky that someone was there to give me CPR [who] just happened to be an expert.”

Adams encourages everyone to learn CPR. He said he’s been teased by colleagues who say he is busy enough that he shouldn’t have to drive around looking for new patients.

He laughs off the good-natured jibes, but admits the double experience is a bit strange.

“If you look at life being like a small world, and it happens one time … but the second time? Jen and I were like, ‘What the heck is just happening here?”‘

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