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On July 29, 2010, Ralph Berry suffered a massive heart attack and cardiac arrest. Upon his arrival in the emergency department at Sharp Memorial Hospital, Ralph was placed on a portable cardiopulmonary bypass system (CPS). CPS mechanically circulates blood and oxygen through the body. Thanks to CPS, the physicians and staff in the emergency department successfully brought Ralph back to life.
Ralph Berry, Patient: What I did experience at first was jaw pain, but I did not put two and two together that I may be having a heart attack. There was sweat, extreme sweat, so I called my wife and asked her to come home. I didn't tell her why.
Suzette Berry, Ralph's Wife: It never occurred to me that something was wrong with him until I walked in the door and he was very pale and clammy looking.
Ralph: I thought maybe I was having heartburn, but I never did really think I may be having a heart attack. That never did occur to me. I never experienced any chest pains or anything like that previous to that and once they took me in the ambulance I remember part of the ride, from then I can't remember anything.
Dr. Zach Shinar, Emergency Department Physician: Ralph was in extremis. He was in full arrest. He had no pulse. He was not breathing on his own. Before Ralph actually even arrived I called for CPS to come down and just to be ready.
Suzette: Well, it was very emotional when my son and I first saw him. You know the CPS unit, I mean you wouldn't be alive without that.
Dr. Joseph Bellezzo, Emergency Department Physician: To our knowledge, this is the first case of a patient who arrested outside of the hospital, came in with CPR in progress, was not able to get stabilized in the traditional manner and was put on bypass successfully in the ER before being transferred to the definitive management, which in his case was coronary cath lab.
Dr. Shinar: We are lucky here at Sharp because we have the ability to do this right now and I do feel for people who are in extremis or who have cardiac arrest like this that this is a big benefit to them.
Ralph: I couldn't be more thankful for what this hospital, their staff, that they have done for myself and my family. We are both, and the family, so grateful for the second chance.