Ody Draklellis can celebrate two birthdays.
The first for when he was born nearly 54 years ago. The second for Oct.18, 2020, when he was brought back to life by doctors and nurses at Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest after a heart attack from a completely blocked artery sent him collapsing just prior to entering the emergency department.
His heartbeat had to be restored five times and after testing he quickly underwent a life-saving procedure to repair the blockage. He was then medically sedated for two days in the hospital’s cardiac intensive care unit undergoing targeted temperature management (formerly therapeutic hypothermia) to ensure brain function recovery. In targeted temperature management, core body temperature is cooled to the low 90s Fahrenheit.
Two weeks later, he walked out of the hospital.
Draklellis, who owns the East Penn Diner in Emmaus with his brother, decided to drive himself to the hospital at 2 a.m. where he then collapsed within 30 seconds of reaching the emergency department registration desk that night. He was immediately taken to the cardiac catheterization lab within 20 minutes of reaching the emergency department.
Today, he’s looking forward to many more birthday celebrations.
Draklellis says he’s an active non-smoker who almost never stands still, and someone who bikes, hikes and hunts. He takes medicine to control cholesterol, regularly sees his primary care doctor, and had no previous heart problems.
In the week before his heart attack, he was planting trees with his son and thought he pulled a muscle in his shoulder blade. “I didn’t think it was unusual. I figured I was sore from pushing myself,” he says.
The night of his heart attack, he started having pain in his forearms. His wife called their health insurance company’s nurse assistance line. His daughter searched heart attack symptoms on the internet. Both urged him multiple times that day to go to the hospital, but it was late and he didn’t think it was that serious.
Draklellis finally texted his friend, hospital medicine physician Paul Layden, MD, with LVPG Hospital Medicine at Cedar Crest, who told him to get to the emergency department immediately.
“The reason I’m alive is because I just entered the hospital,” he says, adding CPR started immediately after he collapsed.
Draklellis says the staff at LVH–Cedar Crest, including his doctor, interventional cardiologist Shailendra Singh, MD, with LVH Cardiology and Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute, cared for him at the highest level with the utmost respect and attention. “The people were so amazing, it was unbelievable,” he says. Some of those who cared for Draklellis last fall still stop into his diner to say hello and check in on him.