Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Swisher calls his survival a miracle, honors ‘heroes’ who helped

  • “I want to thank them for saving my life.”
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  • “I want to thank them for saving my life.”
    Sam Swisher of Hannibal, Mo., was referring to the three people who helped him before the ambulance arrived on July 23, when he collapsed from a sudden cardiac arrest while out jogging on Veterans Road. He also thanked the paramedics who kept him alive on the way to the hospital.
    “My prayer is God gets the praise and honor and glory, but these people were all part of this,” he said.
    His heroes are Heather Smith, who saw him collapse and called 9-1-1; Joyce Davis, who was driving by and stopped to help; and Karla Bradshaw, who stopped and gave him CPR until the ambulance and fire department arrived.
    Marion County Ambulance District personnel at the scene were Keith Amos, assistant chief; and Cody Danuser. First Responders from the Hannibal Rural Fire department who helped were Assistant Chief Kevin Smith, Marshall Miller and Keith Stevenson
    Miller was called by the fire department, but once there, he immediately began doing his paramedic duties with the ambulance district.
    Swisher was eager to meet his heroes on Friday, Aug. 31, when they were honored at a celebration at the home of John and Jane Schafer. Amos, Miller and Davis were able to attend, and each explained what happened after their arrival to help Swisher. The Shafers’ dinner invitation said it well: “Sam Swisher has made a miraculous recovery!”
    He agreed, crediting the medical personnel at hospitals in Hannibal and Columbia, and also believing his recovery was nothing short of a miracle from God.
    Swisher, 60, was first taken to Hannibal Regional Hospital, and after getting two stents to help his heart, he was taken to Boone Hospital Center in Columbia, Mo.
    In Columbia his cardiologist, Dr. Anthony Spaedy, later told him he had a sudden cardiac arrest and only 1 percent of the people who experience this survive.
    “The main thing is I am a Christian, and I believe that God miraculously brought me through this,” Swisher said.
    “There is no other reason I was able to recover other than a miracle. It was God’s grace,” he said. “The doctors did not say that, but they came pretty close.”
    Swisher was in Boone Hospital for nearly two weeks.
    His Hannibal cardiologist is Dr. Mark Shima. with the Hannibal Regional Medical Group.
    “A lot of people have prayed and supported us (he and his wife, Susan),” he said.
    Swisher stopped breathing,
    and had no pulse
    When she saw Swisher on the grass and stopped to help, Davis said, “he was not breathing and had no pulse.” With Smith on the phone with 9-1-1, Davis asked what she should do and was told to lift his head. Swisher was already blue, she said, and she was relieved when Bradshaw arrived and said she knew CPR, so Davis turned Swisher over to Bradshaw.
    Page 2 of 2 - What did Davis do then? “I just prayed and knew he was in the Lord’s hands.” Davis said, adding “It made me feel humble to know God could use me” to help save Swisher’s life.
    The paramedics arrived at 6:21 a.m. Miller said, and after he was given CPR to keep his blood circulating artificially, by the time the ambulance arrived at Hannibal Regional Hospital at 6:44 a.m. Swisher’s heart had returned to spontaneous circulation.
    Amos explained when the paramedics arrived, they put monitors on Swisher and began defibrillation. “We ended up shocking him four times,” Amos said.
    Medication also was given to Swisher, and with both medication and the electric shocks, he started breathing just as the ambulance arrived at Hannibal Regional Hospital.
    Dr. Shima had already been called, and was soon doing the procedure of installing two stents to help Swisher’s circulation.
    When Swisher’s wife, Susan, was called to the hospital, she also began calling her friends. Susan explained that her neighbor, Pat Gaines, was the first she called, then John and Jane Shafer. “I could not have done without my friends,” she said.
    At the dinner Friday, after listening to all that was done to help her husband, Susan said, “when you hear it all, it becomes even more of a miracle.”
    After making a miraculous recovery, Swisher, Ph.D., is working full-time as chairman of the history department at Hannibal-LaGrange University, where he has been on the faculty for 16 years. Susan teaches at Eugene Field Elementary School.
    Now, he said, he is teaching full-time and “doing exactly what I was doing in the spring. I feel fine.”
    Advises people
    about hereditary
    health problems
    Heart trouble runs in his family, Swisher said, but he did not see his doctor often enough. “My father died at 55 and my grandfather at 46.
    “I was in good shape. I have run consistently for the last 15 years,” he reported.
    “I thought by keeping running and eating right I could avoid this, but the doctors said you can’t outrun heredity.
    “People should not do what I did,” he said. “They should go and get checked out, especially if they have a history” of heart problems.
    Now Swisher is doing things differently to stay healthy. “I try to follow the dietary guidelines, but they are minimal.”
    Regarding his survival and recovery, he said, “There are so many ‘what ifs,’ you can’t help but believe it was God’s direct intervention.”
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