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Life changes in a heartbeat

Gloria Moles, with her granddaughter, Evelyn Moles, suffered a cardiac arrest in a Christmas parade.

Patient who survives cardiac arrest thrives off of community and hospital support

For Gloria Moles, everything changed in a moment.

One minute, the 62-year-old Waynesboro resident was clogging with her granddaughter and their dance group in a Christmas parade, and the next minute, she was lying on the ground, looking up at firefighters, paramedics and police officers. She’d been shocked back to life after a cardiac arrest, one of the few to survive such a significant event.

“I found out later that only 5 percent of people who have this kind of event outside the hospital live through it, and of those, half have brain damage,” she says. “God was with me that day. He really made sure I was in the right place and at the right time for this to happen.”

That right place was directly across from a fire station, where they had an AED unit, and one of the other cloggers knew CPR, which kept Moles’ heart going for those crucial first minutes.

Before her cardiac event, Moles never had any heart trouble. She felt fine and healthy, she says, and started the parade feeling as happy and energetic as always. At Augusta Health, she learned that one of her arteries was totally blocked but that her heart had started its own bypass in order to get back to a normal rhythm. Rather than trying to unblock the artery, Augusta Health cardiologist Glenn Brammer, MD, recommended a defibrillator, which Moles says makes her feel confident that her heart can stay on track.

What struck her most — beyond the way that life can change so quickly — was the way that Dr. Brammer pulled up a chair and sat down to talk about her options, she says.

“It was a simple gesture, but it really represents what this place is about,” says Moles, who actually works at Augusta Health in the clinical engineering department. “He acted like he had all the time in the world, that I was his only priority. “We had such a deep conversation, and it was filled with kindness and compassion. And that’s what everyone I’ve encountered through this has shown. It’s such a gift.”

The way that everyone came together to be part of Moles’ recovery aligns with the mission of Augusta Health, adds Dr. Brammer. “We work here, but we also live here. We have friends and family here. We’re a true community. And that comes through in the care we give,” he says.

Moles believes that her cardiac arrest can have a ripple effect across the area as well. Her entire clogging group, including their family members, are learning CPR from the same paramedic who helped Moles on the parade route.

“This whole experience taught me how quickly everything can happen. It’s been humbling,” she says. “I’m so thankful for a community that stepped up to help me.”

Find out if you are at risk for heart disease. Answer seven questions at augustahealth.com/heart.