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Team effort key after employee’s cardiac arrest

Sep. 13, 2012, 9:19 AM

Mouzon Siddiqi, who has accrued 11 months of sick leave during her 37 years as a Vanderbilt employee, has to use some of those days after suffering a cardiac arrest on Sept. 6, outside the University Club.

Mouzon Siddiqi

Siddiqi, program coordinator for the graduate program in Economic Development, and her colleague, Marie Kelley, were taking a Vanderbilt University alumnus to lunch that day. As they approached the doors to the University Club, Siddiqi, 63, suddenly collapsed to the ground and stopped breathing.

“She didn’t have a pulse. It was very traumatic to see her like that,” Kelley said. “I was a little shocked and almost hysterical.”

Fortunately, a nurse was at the door and tended to Siddiqi as Kelley went inside the dining room to get help. Brian Rothman, M.D., assistant professor of Anesthesiology, was finishing up a meeting there and quickly responded to her call for help.

“She asked if either of us was a physician, and I replied that I was. She said her friend had collapsed outside. I quickly went that direction and told someone to call 911,” Rothman said.

He began CPR while the nurse supported Siddiqi’s head and opened her airway. Someone who identified herself as a lifeguard assisted with CPR while they waited for the paramedics to arrive with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

“It was a team effort by a whole bunch of bystanders. Everyone chipped in to help,” Rothman said. “I am very happy she has done so well. When people go down in the field like this, the survival rate tends to go down rapidly. The fact that her friend got to some folks who could help so quickly is why she’s alive.”

Paramedics with the Nashville Fire Department shocked Siddiqi three times and were eventually able to restore her heart rate. She was transported by ambulance to Vanderbilt University Hospital, where she was diagnosed with arrhythmia.

She underwent surgery and now has a pacemaker and a cardiac defibrillator implanted to maintain a regular heart rhythm and to administer an electric shock to the heart should the rhythm become abnormal again.

“I just feel like the luckiest person on earth,” Siddiqi said. “I am so grateful. Everyone at the hospital has just been fantastic.”

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