Man dead 29 times, but still alive writes Katie Miller
[English Text only]
THE black 'iron marks' on his chest have faded but Gold Coast Dani Katz still has a giant scar to remind him there are 29 reasons why he is lucky to be celebrating his 55th birthday tomorrow.
The Nerang man was resuscitated a record 29 times after he suffered a heart attack in July, which left him with defibrillator marks that took two months to disappear.
The passionate rugby league fan is not sure how he will celebrate his birthday but is grateful he will have no troubles with his heart when he cheers on Queensland during the State of Origin game next Wednesday.
"I get annoyed or upset if the team I'm going for loses but I don't collapse on the ground and wait for an ambulance," he said with a laugh.
"As my wife says, the time bomb in me has now probably been removed."
Mr Katz visited Gold Coast Hospital yesterday and, with tears in his eyes at times, met with some of the staff who helped make sure he reached his next birthday.
He was full of praise for the paramedics, doctors, nurses and Broadbeach cardiac rehabilitation centre workers who gave him a second chance at life.
Mr Katz said he did not feel any major pain during the epic effort to revive him but he had been aware his wife Evelyn was distressed.
"It was a very surreal situation," he said.
"I remember being woken up -- you call it being defibrillated -- I just call it being woken up, being shaken, being spoken to and then just dropping off into sleep.
"On two occasions I saw white light ... I'm not a spiritual or mystical person but someone asked me jokingly 'Well did you see the white light?' and I said 'As a matter of fact I did'."
The drama began when Mr Katz was making up a bed with his wife early on a Sunday evening and started to suffer unusual pain, which they did not initially think was anything serious.
Mrs Katz, a former nurse, thought it could be related to her husband's thyroid condition and called an ambulance to be on the safe side.
The low-intensity burning pain moving horizontally in his chest did not fit with the classic heart-attack symptoms -- which the couple later discovered was likely because he is a diabetic.
The father of six was able to walk to the ambulance and was loaded in before he 'went completely white' and the situation took a serious turn.
Two other ambulances were called and the marathon of resuscitations began as they drove to the Gold Coast Hospital.
Mr Katz was brought back to life several times in the emergency department and then a number of times on the table in the cardiac catheter lab.
Gold Coast Hospital cardiologist Dr Atifur Rahman said Mr Katz's cardiac arrest resulted from a blocked artery, on which he used three stents to open.
Another artery was almost completely blocked, which led to the 54-year-old having triple bypass surgery at the Princess Alexandra Hospital the following Friday.
Dr Rahman said it was the most resuscitations he had ever performed on a patient who had survived.
"I've had a patient that had more than that, but he actually died," he said. "I'd call it one of the highest numbers of cardioversions in a patient who is in cardiac arrest who then survived."
Mr Katz said he was initially scared the slightest movement would cause problems with his heart but even though he was still technically in recovery, he was now well beyond that.
Although born in Sydney, the longtime Queensland supporter said he would be cheering on the Maroons during State of Origin Game II.
"I just hope it's going to be a good game, an enjoyable game and a close game," he said.
"Anything to shut Willie Mason up. I think Willie Mason has one big mouth that needs upsetting."
Mr Katz said he had not thought much about his 55th birthday celebrations but would probably go for a quiet dinner and drink with his wife of 15 years.
"It's the birthday I shouldn't have had," he said.
"I'm realistic enough to realise that I'm damn lucky.
"I was given a second chance and hopefully I'm not going to stuff it up."
Mr Katz said he used to smoke 40 to 50 cigarettes a day but quit cold turkey after the incident and began exercising religiously for 30 minutes daily.
The former school teacher has left the stressful courier job he was doing at the time and is retraining to become a language teacher while also training eBay users.
Mrs Katz said the resuscitation marathon was something she would never forget, not just because of her husband's 20cm scar.
She said the episode coincided with the 10th anniversary of the bridge collapse at the Maccabiah Games opening in Israel, which left four Australian athletes dead and more than 70 people injured.
The Australian 10-pin bowling competitor had been marching across the bridge when it collapsed.
"I nearly lost my life then and survived, because I went into the river and nearly drowned as well, and then 10 years to the day Daniel nearly lost his life," she said.
Dr Rahman said anyone who suspected they were having a heart attack should call an ambulance and go to the Gold Coast Hospital straight away, which has a 24-hour primary angioplasty service.
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