'We immediately did an ECG and the results showed evidence of heart attack'
After suffering a heart attack and fatal arrhythmia, Jordanian expat Mojeeb kept oscillating between life and death 13 times as doctors in Abu Dhabi pulled out all the stops to keep him alive. While a medical team tirelessly kept reviving his life, simultaneously another set of specialists opened Mojeeb’s heart to fix 100 per cent blocked arteries.
The dramatic day of December, though, had a quiet start with Mojeeb driving from his home to workplace. Suddenly, he felt uncomfortable, started sweating and there was a tingling sensation in his chest. Without wasting any time, he drove straight to the nearby Burjeel Medical City in Mohammed Bin Zayed City. A fatigued Mojeeb somehow scampered to the emergency room and collapsed onto a bed in front of Dr Zuhair Alsharafi.
“He complained about chest pain. We immediately did an ECG and the results showed evidence of heart attack,” Dr Alsharafi, director of the emergency department, told Khaleej Times.
Instantly, Dr Alsharafi alerted Dr Koshy Georgey, the medical director and chief of cardiac sciences. A medical team was tasked to keep the cardiac catheterisation lab (Cath lab) ready.
“A Cath Lab is diagnostic and therapeutic. Basically, you can see if there is a clot and treat accordingly. While we were preparing him for lab procedures, he went into arrhythmia (irregular, abnormal rhythm of heartbeat). It was a fatal one. His heart kind of stopped. He lost consciousness. The immediate treatment for fatal arrhythmia was to give electrical shocks. It’s called direct-current (DC) cardioversion. He immediately became conscious,” Dr Alsharafi, consultant, emergency medicine, said.
While shifting Mojeeb from the emergency room to the Cath Lab, he got another fatal arrhythmia in the elevator. He slipped into a coma and was again given an electrical shock. He returned to life. But just after entering the lab, he slipped away for the third time and was given another electrical shock. Once he regained consciousness, he was moved to the lab’s table for the procedure.
A multidisciplinary team of experts from the emergency room, cardiology, anaesthesiology, and Cath Lab all worked in cohesion.
However, Mojeeb kept coming in and out of life 10 more times and was given as many rounds of electrical shocks. The only way to resolve the insanely intense moments inside the lab was to get his irregular rhythm under control. Showing exceptional skills, Dr Georgey did the angioplasty to remove the block in the short span of time when Mojeeb was resuscitated following the electrical shocks.
“The only way to stop it was to see what’s going on. The problem was that the pressure was down, heart was pretty much at standstill, there was no pulse, he was getting electrical shocks and his body was moving. So, we almost blindly punctured, got the blood vessel, saw the 100 per cent blockage of the artery, did angioplasty, wired it, and got the flow of blood.”
Dr Georgey highlighted that Mojeeb was given electrical shock 13 times in a space of 15 minutes.
“We didn’t give time for the heart to become dead.”
Mojeeb was a heavy smoker, which could have triggered a heart attack. Blockage of arteries from a clot can lead to a heart attack and even sudden death.
“On feeling discomfort and pain, if he hadn’t come straight to the emergency room, either he would have met with an accident or collapsed by the roadside. There was no way to survive this situation without the procedure,” Dr Georgey, consultant cardiologist, interventional cardiology, said.
“When we do this procedure, we feel the pulse, and then you take a puncture, blood comes out, then we wire and go all the way till the heart. In this case, you can’t feel the pulse. I had to make an assessment. And it was not red but black blood which oozed out. It meant oxygenation of blood was done. We put the wire pretty much blindly.”
Dr Alsharafi termed the procedure inside the lab as one filled with “goosebumps moment”.
“He came back from death 13 times to a full recovery a few hours later.”
Mojeeb, a 48-year-old father of two children, has now quit smoking and is taking care of his health.
“I never had any heart problems. I was just heading to work and suddenly I felt very uncomfortable. I used to be a heavy smoker. It affected my life to the extent that I had near-death experiences. If not for the doctors at Burjeel Medical City, I am sure, I wouldn't have been alive today. But I have learnt my life lessons and stopped smoking. I look at my two children and wonder what their lives would be if I was no more. Now I walk daily. My life has really changed. Now I am healthy and leading a comfortable life," said Mojeeb.