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Patient Vincent Pasquariello (center) presents awards to Debbie Page (at left) and Gabriel Alicea, who performed CPR on him.
The last thing Vincent Pasquariello remembers about his post-heart transplant visit at BWH late last year was seeing a group of people surrounding him while he lay on the floor in clinic.
"All I wanted was to get up," Pasquariello said. "I was fading fast. I couldn't catch my breath."
After several minutes of performing CPR on the Peabody native, BWH staff were able to revive Pasquariello. He had suffered a cardiac arrest and required immediate surgery.
Pasquariello was rushed to the operating room, where physicians were successful in stopping the bleeding around his heart that had caused the cardiac arrest.
Recovered and feeling great five months later, Pasquariello recently came back to BWH to present an award from the American Heart Association to nurse practitioner Debbie Page, APRN-BC, and Gabriel Alicea, a medical assistant in the Watkins Cardiovascular Clinic, both of whom performed CPR on him. The Heartsaver Hero Award honors community members who have performed CPR or used an automated external defibrillator to help save the life of a fellow citizen who went into sudden cardiac arrest.
Pasquariello said he nominated Page and Alicea for their quick response, which ultimately saved his life.
Page, of the Cardiovascular Division, credits the colleagues who were standing by her side that day. JoAnne Foody, MD, FACC, medical director of the Cardiovascular Wellness Center and Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Program at BWH, helped her through the code, as well as Michelle Young, NP; Aileen Sauris, MS, ANP; and Alicea. "I don't think it would have gone as smoothly if I didn't have them there," she said.
Page said receiving the recognition is very rewarding.
"I know how important my job is and how critical it is for me to know CPR," she said.
Michael Givertz, MD, medical director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, who is Pasquariello's heart failure/transplant cardiologist, said he's very proud of his colleagues for the leadership and care they provided.
"It means a lot that Vincent went to such lengths to recognize our team and their life-saving treatment," Givertz said.
Pasquariello said he wouldn't have had it any other way.
"My gratitude goes out to everyone who saved my life," he said. "My experiences have given me strength, and I firmly believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."