Ed Burkett still can’t believe that he died 44 times after a round of golf this past summer and not only survived to tell the story, but is back on the golf course.
On August 13, Burkett was on the 13th hole when he began feeling a sharp pain “like an air bubble” in his chest. After one of his golfing friends took him to the Veterans Administration clinic in Denton, EMS rushed him to Medical City Denton, a top-level chest pain center. His heart stopped the first time as he was being wheeled from the emergency room to surgery. His heart stopped 44 times, restarted each time with a defibrillator and a dedicated and persistent Medical City Denton cardiovascular team.
“Keeping someone alive and ensuring a quality of life are two different stories,” said Gary Fazio, MD, the cardiologist who led the cardiovascular team that ultimately saved Burkett’s life. “I wasn’t counting the number of shocks that we administered. After each shock, his heartbeat came back, and we were able to continue another step in his surgery.”
Buoyed by each success, the team inserted a stent, a pacemaker and a heart pump device. After surgery, Burkett was placed into a hypothermic condition to preserve brain function and slowly warmed over the next eight days until he could be removed from the ventilator. Two days later, Burkett began talking and walking with encouragement from the cardiac rehabilitation specialists. On August 24, Ed Burkett walked out of Medical City Denton.
“It’s a miracle that came from a catastrophe and defining moment of his life,” Dr. Fazio said. “If you had told me we had shocked him 44 times, I wouldn’t have believed it. As the number of shocks mount, the chances of survival with intact brain function are slim. Ed has an excellent prognosis for a good, full, happy, healthy life.”
“I have never seen someone shocked 44 times during one procedure in my career and neither have any of the physicians that I have spoken to,” said Ashley Smith, vice president of Cardiovascular Services who cared for Burkett during his procedure. “This case is truly extraordinary. There are cases when you just don’t give up. Something is driving you and that need to continue overpowers the knowledge that in almost every circumstance, this will not be a good outcome. This was one of those cases. The patient was talking to my team when they laid him on the table. There was no way they were willing to give up when his heart stopped.”
Within a week, Burkett was back on the golf course and eager to tell the story of the doctor and the medical team that gave him a new purpose in life.
“Many have called me a miracle. But God’s got a purpose for me,” Burkett said. “This hospital is the cardio hospital of this area. If you want cardiac care, this is the place to be. Because they didn’t give up.
“For God to take this miracle from step A to Z, it had to take place here. To this place. It had to take place in this hospital. There’s an aura here, and everyone can see it. With way over a million to one odds against me, this hospital and God brought me around. ”