For a golfer, spending a summer day on a championship golf course is heavenly. On Aug. 4, Christopher Cooley, an emergency medicine resident at Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills had made a birdie in a three-day invitational tournament at Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield. His tournament partner was his brother Matt, a gastroenterology fellow at St. John Providence. The pair, who are Royal Oak residents, eventually wound up winning their tournament flight in stroke play. Neither knew that within seconds of Chris’ birdie, they’d be working hard to save a man’s life on the golf course.
A golfer yelled that they needed a doctor for someone who had collapsed on the hole ahead of Chris and Matt. “I ran as fast as I’ve ever run, and pulled a hamstring muscle,” Chris said. “When I got there, the patient was without a pulse, wasn’t breathing and had turned blue. I heard the voice of Dr. Frank Schell, one my instructors, saying ‘Better get on that chest, doctor.’”
Chris and Matt know that CPR can help someone who’s had an unexpected cardiac arrest. The heart stops beating strongly enough to pump blood around the body, depriving the brain of blood flow. They took turns giving hard and fast CPR to get oxygen into the patient’s brain to prevent brain damage.
City of Southfield paramedics arrived and used an automated external defibrillator, or AED, to restart the patient’s heart with an electrical shock. The patient, David Wujczyk, 61, a Novi resident, was rushed to the nearest hospital where he received emergency angioplasty to restore blood flow in his blocked cardiac arteries and two stents to help support the inner wall of these arteries.
Effective “bystander CPR” provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander. Sadly, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.
Wujczyk was lucky
“This is such a cool story! I am so lucky. My life was saved on a golf course by two young guys I’d never met,” said Wujczyk, who owns an insurance agency in Farmington Hills. “My sternum is bruised from the CPR, but I couldn’t care less about it. Chris and Matt saved my life, and I will be forever grateful to them.”
Each year, more than 350,000 people in the United States — one every 90 seconds — experience cardiac arrest. The vast majority of these do not occur at a hospital, and those who receive CPR from a bystander are up to three times more likely to survive than someone who doesn’t receive such assistance.
Wujczyk continued, “Chris and his brother really used their talents that day! I never saw it coming; however, I did feel a little weird on the practice range that day.”
On the course, Wujczyk’s friend and golf partner of 25 years, Rick Plawecki, was so happy he cried and gave each of the doctors a kiss of gratitude for saving his best friend. Chris mentioned that people were thanking them and buying them drinks throughout the rest of the tournament. The country club even gave special recognition to the pair during the awards dinner at the end of the tournament.
While Wujczyk considers himself to be physically fit, when he came home from the hospital, he and his wife committed to changing how they eat and are using the DASH diet, which involves eating lots of fruits, vegetables and dairy products - about twice the average amount consumed by many Americans - and taking a cautious approach to meat and fats. And, when his cardiologist gives him clearance, Wujczyk is eager to begin cardiac rehabilitation to regain his cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility.
“I want to get strong and healthy since I’ve got a lot to live for, including a new grandchild on the way,” said Wujczyk.