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Heart attack victim at airport rescued by New Orleans cardiologist

After Gormley lost consciousness, Dr. Selim Krim a cardiologist at Ochsner Health, with the help of two nearby women, resuscitated him.
Credit: Della Haselle

NEW ORLEANS — A 70-year-old man was recovering from a heart attack on Thursday at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, almost a month after he was rescued at the airport by a local cardiologist and two others, according to a statement from the hospital. 

A California resident, Joseph Gormley planned only a short visit to his best friend in New Orleans.

The two were ready to fly to their 50th high school reunion in Rhode Island, when Gormley suffered a heart attack in Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

"I was talking to my friend, and I felt a shadow coming over my eyes," Gormley said. "And then I started blacking out." 

After Gormley lost consciousness, Dr. Selim Krim a cardiologist at Ochsner Health, with the help of two nearby women, started CPR and strapped the airport's automated external defibrillator to Gormley's chest, resuscitating him.

That's when Gormley's short visit to Louisiana turned into a month-long stay.  

He was eventually transferred from Ochsner's Medical Center in Kenner to their building in New Orleans for a successful triple bypass surgery. 

His best friend, Leonard Alsfeld, believes that Gormley may have died if Dr. Krim had not been there. 

"It was a miracle. The prompt response from the doctor response from the doctor on the scene and the two other women who were there changed his life forever," Alsfeld said. "They extended his time on this earth to enjoy his family and all this world has to offer." 

Krim himself, credits the availability of lifesaving technology like the AED that was available in the airport. Krim called on more public areas to make these machines more easily accessible.  

“No matter who is responding, it is so critical for witnesses of cardiac arrests to call 911, provide immediate CPR and ask for an AED – which fortunately was available in the airport,” Krim said. “That machine was truly key to Mr. Gormley surviving this event.”

The cardiologist added that he hopes when Gormley comes back to New Orleans it will be under different circumstances.

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