Healthy You - Every Day

Right Place, Right Time: LVHN Colleague Brings Neighbor Back to Life Following Heart Attack

Mary Jean Potylycki, RN, acted fast when she came home to find her neighbor lying unresponsive in his front yard

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John Williams and Mary Jean Potylycki, RN LVHN

Perfect timing and quick action saved John Williams’ life when his neighbor, Mary Jean Potylycki, RN, came home early from work to find him in cardiac arrest. Potylycki, Director of Clinical Practice for Patient Care Services at Lehigh Valley Health Network, knew just what to do.

"I feel so thankful that I was in the right place at the right time to come to John's assistance," says Potylycki. "I believe I reacted the same way any health care worker would."

As a neighbor and friend for more than 20 years, Potylycki was aware of his health concerns and knew to look out for signs of trouble.

Williams' medical history includes a bypass surgery, a heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery and peripheral artery disease, so he maintains an exercise routine to stay healthy. This routine often includes mowing the lawn and spending time outside in his garden.

Springing into action

On June 23, Potylycki returned home from work unexpectedly early to find Williams lying in the grass unresponsive. She took immediate action.

Thanks to her previous experience as a cardiac nurse, she knew she needed to begin CPR immediately. She performed chest compressions and rescue breaths for six minutes until the emergency medical technicians arrived by ambulance to take over.

"I feel so thankful that I was in the right place at the right time to come to John's assistance," says Potylycki.

"I believe I reacted the same way any health care worker would."

Life-saving care

Ultimately, Williams was taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital─Cedar Crest where he was treated by Jeffrey Gordon, MD, and Justin Guthier, DO, cardiologists with Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute. Williams had a defibrillator implanted to help him maintain a steady heartbeat. After recovery, he returned safely home to the neighborhood he shares with Potylycki.

Did you know?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 805,000 Americans experience a heart attack each year.
When you are faced with a heart emergency, LVHN has the most experienced cardiologists and cardiac surgeons in the region.
Our experienced clinicians have helped thousands of people survive heart attacks – we consistently rank among the best in the nation for heart attack survival. 

About a week later, Williams and Potylycki met again for the first time since the event.

"I was just mowing my lawn when I suddenly felt dizzy," says Williams. "I don't know how I can ever thank Mary Jean enough for saving my life."

"I'm a nurse," says Potylycki. "This is what I do."

John Williams and Mary Jean Potylycki

Learn more about the Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute and request an appointment at 

LVHN.org/heart

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