Brian did not have any of the traditionally reported near death experiences (moving toward a light, being visited by a spirit, etc.) but he did find his purpose and mission through his experience. It became clear to him after being in the darkness that all people bring a special light to the world and that his mission was to share his light with others.
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The first time Brian’s heart stopped was at the end of a 14 hour surgery to repair structures that had been destroyed by an infection that took hold in his aortic valve. He had recently experienced a heart attack because of the infection, and the long surgery simply left his heart too weak to continue working. The second time his heart stopped was likely an electrical disturbance in his left ventricle caused by scar tissue left from his heart attack. This electrical disturbance likely led to an irregular rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, during which the heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body.
Unfortunately, the answer to this question may never be known. A bacteria called P Acnes entered Brian’s bloodstream, possibly through a cut, or by bleeding caused by routine dental work. The bacteria was able to take hold on Brian’s aortic valve more easily, as it was a replacement valve that had been put in about two and a half years before the infection was found.
Brian was diagnosed with a congenital bicuspid aortic valve and aortic stenosis in 1988, at 8 years old. The diagnosis was watched carefully, but did not cause any need for intervention until 2016, when, due to expected deterioration of his valve, it needed to be replaced. Brian was healthy from that point until 2018, when the infection in his valve caused multiple blood clots including multiple strokes and a myocardial infarction (heart attack) prior to diagnosis and surgical treatment.
Brian’s health continues to improve. His heart is still weaker than it was prior to the infection, but at each check, the performance has improved. He is active: mountain biking and chasing his children, and he feels great.
Brian and Kelsey married in July of 2002. They met and began dating almost 6 years earlier, in October of 1996, when they were both 16 and Brian was a Junior, and Kelsey a Sophomore in high school.
A cardiac arrest is not something that is generally planned, but there are some things everyone can do to be prepared in case of a cardiac arrest: learn CPR and take regular refresher classes to keep your skills up to date; know about automated external defibrillators-where they are available and how to use them; understand how to contact your emergency medical services in your area. Brain death begins within three minutes of lack of blood flow. A person’s chance of survival during cardiac arrest decreases by 10% for every minute without defibrillation. Acting quickly can save a life!