A Man Suffered a Heart Attack on the Train. Another Passenger Rushed to Help Just In Time.

“Without Avi, there is just no question I wouldn’t be here.”

Avi Hatami and Brad Wieboldt.Screenshot via Newsday

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Avi Hatami was on a commuter train outside New York, studying for a medical exam, when he heard something. Hatami, an aspiring doctor just 10 months out of medical school in Mexico, took his earbuds out, recognized a call for medical assistance, and rushed to help.

In the adjacent car, Hatami found a man with no pulse—cold, sweating, bluish. He ripped off the man’s shirt and coat and performed CPR for 15 minutes.

“I was very nervous. First patient in the States. I don’t have a license yet. I’m 23 years old. I think I was one of the youngest people on the train,” Hatami tells Newsday. “I was yelling, ‘Stay with me, stay with me, come on, come on, stay with me,’ and just kept on going.”

Eventually, the color began returning to Brad Wieboldt’s face. After the train stopped, EMTs were able to board and take care of Wieboldt, who had suffered a heart attack. Still, the 51-year-old had to be placed in a medically induced coma for five days before he woke up.

Last Wednesday, 16 days after the drama, Wieboldt met Hatami and hugged him. “Without Avi,” said Wieboldt, “there is just no question I wouldn’t be here.”

That is just one inspiring recent medical story. In New Orleans, a cardiac nurse was out dancing when a fellow two-stepper collapsed. Laura Pizzano performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, pumped his chest, and then applied an emergency defibrillator as the dancers formed a prayer circle around them, the Times-Picayune reported. EMTs took the stricken man, who survived, to the hospital.  

In a rescue of another kind, Liz Smith, a director of nursing at a Boston hospital, adopted a baby girl who had not been visited for five months, according to the Washington Post. “Since the moment I met her, there was something behind her striking blue eyes capturing my attention,” said Smith. “I felt that I needed to love this child and keep her safe.”

(Thanks to Recharge readers Patricia Kitchen, Rose Horowitz, Delores Handy, and Kasia Clarke for the story suggestions.)

And in other Recharge news..

  • “A no-militia policy.” After two anti-immigrant vigilante groups showed up in Arivaca, Arizona, the border town community rallied to stop them from inciting violence. One of the groups claimed in a Facebook video that townspeople were in league with immigrant smugglers and drug dealers. A local bar responded by banning militias from its premises. Fearing Pizzagate-style extremism, 60 residents met, set up phone trees for threats, and complained to Facebook about the groups. The social network later banned the main account of one group; the others left. “There’s a lot less fear going around, which is great,” said Megan Davern, a local bartender. Listen to journalist Eric Reidy discuss the story on The Mother Jones Podcast. (Mother Jones)
  • Paying it forward. In October, George P. Smith won the Nobel Prize for chemistry. Last month, the University of Missouri professor emeritus decided to give his $243,000 prize money to the school. “I prospered here,” Smith said in an interview. “I think I owe a lot to Mizzou, and this is a pretty appropriate place to give the money to. It’s also money for a healthy, academic institution.” (Columbia Missourian)
  • The Recharge Quote. “Sometimes it is the very people who cry out the loudest in favor of getting back to what they call ‘American Virtues’ who lack this faith in our country. I believe that our greatest strength lies always in the protection of our smallest minorities.” That’s from Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, to a 10-year-old fan, in 1970. See the full letter on Twitter. (Erin Ruberry)
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