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Don's Heart Attack Story

Nov 14, 2019

Heart attack survivor gives back

Don Miller and wife in front of Abrazo WestDon Miller collapsed at home on June 5, 2018. His wife Candy tried in vain to give CPR until help arrived. Some 20 minutes later – with no pulse – he was in the Emergency Department at Abrazo West Campus where hospital staff simply wouldn’t give up on him.

“The amazing trauma team at Abrazo West performed miracles,” relates Candy. “It was a grueling couple of hours before I received word from one of the medical team members that they were able to stabilize Don and would be transporting him to the ICU.” Ten days later, Don went home.

Today, Avondale residents Don and Candy Miller are hospital volunteer ambassadors at Abrazo West, grateful for his care and celebrating the first year of a second chance at life. As volunteers, they visit with heart patients, greet visitors at the hospital’s information desk and even serve coffee in the hospital’s new bistro.

“They told me I was dead for 20 minutes, but later I heard it was nearly an hour,” says Don. “Right after my recovery I began to start thinking we need to do something to give back. One of the things we wanted to do is tell patients there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that here is hope after a cardiac event.”

A week after his release, the Millers celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Don and Candy started volunteering at the hospital just three months after his heart attack.

Don Miller with wife volunteering“We share our experience with everybody. How much we appreciate the care and culture here, and how thankful we are that the ambulance took Don to Abrazo West. It just really struck me how the people here really love their jobs,” says Candy.

The Millers add that hospital staff told them that even though they see ill and injured patients every day, being a part of Don’s care team and seeing his recovery was a great reminder of how valuable they are as caregivers.

“Abrazo West has an amazing team of caregivers, support staff and volunteers. Don’s story is just one example of the great things happening in our hospital every day. We are very proud of our ability to positively impact so many people’s lives in our community,” says Abrazo West Campus Chief Executive Officer Christina Oh.