Abu Dhabi heart attack victim has little memory of efforts by vets to save his life

Klaus-Dieter Bielitz and his wife, Jennifer, were picking up their two cats from the British Veterinary Centre in Khalidiya on May 12 when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was found by his wife slumped unconscious at the wheel of his car.
Klaus-Dieter Bielitz, 56, and his wife Jennifer have spoken of how a team of vets saved his life after he suffered a heart attack outside their clinic. They performed chest compression in the street and fitted an oxygen mask last used on a German shepherd. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Klaus-Dieter Bielitz, 56, and his wife Jennifer have spoken of how a team of vets saved his life after he suffered a heart attack outside their clinic. They performed chest compression in the street and fitted an oxygen mask last used on a German shepherd. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Klaus-Dieter Bielitz has very little memory of having his life saved by a team of vets after he suffered a heart attack on an Abu Dhabi street last month.

“For me the lights went off and dimly came back on in hospital. I vaguely know they carried me to an ambulance,” said the German expatriate, 56, who is recovering at his home in the capital watched over by his wife Jennifer.

“It scared me because if I had been alone, I wouldn’t be here now. I can only say ‘thank you’ to the vets. I hear they kept on trying, they didn’t give up.”

Mr Bielitz and his wife were picking up their two cats from the British Veterinary Centre in Khalidiya on May 12 when he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was found by his wife slumped unconscious at the wheel of his car.

He had no pulse and had stopped breathing. Mrs Bielitz ran back into the clinic shouting for help.

The pavement outside the clinic turned into a makeshift emergency room, with three vets performing chest compression in rotation, securing an oxygen mask and clearing blood blocking Mr Bielitz’s airways.

Nurses periodically lifted his legs to push blood back into the heart and brain, while doctors placed electrodes on Mr Bielitz to monitor his heart rate.

He regained consciousness before the ambulance arrived 20 minutes later.

“At one point he was totally purple, I thought he was dead, there was no way they would get him back,” said Mrs Bielitz, 57.

“If it hadn’t been for CPR and oxygen, honestly we would have been burying him.

“We are still a complete family because of their actions. It is because of them that Klaus is returning to health and with his faculties, otherwise he could have been dead or brain damaged. How do you thank someone for saving your life?”

The couple plan to meet staff at the centre next week.

For now, Mr Bielitz, an engineer with an industrial fire protection systems firm, has been advised to take lots of rest. He also praised the efforts of doctors at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City where he was treated for 10 days.

Medical tests showed a deep vein thrombosis – when a blood clot travels through the bloodstream and blocks blood flow – could have caused the attack.

It was his second brush with death. Mrs Bielitz was with him when he suffered an attack in 2006 caused by a coronary blockage that required a stent to improve blood flow.

The couple met in Abu Dhabi in 1987 and have lived here ever since with their two children, now aged 26 and 24, and 10 cats. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in December last year.

Mr Bielitz’s recent collapse has shaken the family, who plan to buy a portable oxygen cylinder. “It is very good to make the public aware of CPR and every public place and workplace should have to have a mobile defibrillator and oxygen cylinder,” said Mrs Bielitz, an English national.

“Every minute makes a difference. We were lucky we were outside the vets, that they had equipment – albeit for animals.”

Mr Bielitz laughed when he was told the oxygen mask used to save his life was usually reserved for large dogs.

“They saved me with a mask from a big dog, it was used on a German shepherd before,” he said.

Staff at the centre said all the equipment was thoroughly sterilised before use.

His experience has convinced Mr Bielitz to lead a less stressful life from now on.

“I still have chest pain but it’s better. I will spend more time with family and I will take everything easy now,” he said.

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Published: May 29, 2014 04:00 AM

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