> Timothy Valas
, 41, is alive today because his
heart stopped beating near people who knew what was happening, knew what to do, and had the tools to do it. Mr. Valas
had just finished a workout in Westboro, at the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts
grabbed a towel to wipe down the elliptical machine he
'd been using, his
exercise regimen since he hurt his
knee playing volleyball weeks before.He
wanted to get in some exercise before going to a basketball game in Providence that night.With several marathons under his
belt and a monthly hike with friends up Wachusett Mountain, the Fidelity
Investments vice president fit the definition of fitness.
was breathing, he
had a pulse, but then he
needed two shocks, his
helpers standing clear each time, waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
After the second shock, he
stirred, struggling to breathe.A faint pulse returned and then the color in his
face seeped back.
The EMTs arrived, just seven minutes since Mr. Valas's
may never know why his
While the AED was likely the most critical component in Mr. Valas's
was also helped by a hypothermic protocol that cooled his
body to minimize damage to his
woke up four days after his
collapse, had his
defibrillator implanted, and came home the next day.
needs it, the device will shock his
heart, delivering a jolt that will feel like someone has punched him in the chest, he
can't swing a golf club until May, he
can't walk through airport metal detectors, and with a wide smile, he
"He was so fortunate that everything worked out for him the way that it did," said Dr. Thanawalla, who visited Mr. Valas
in the intensive care unit.
...Mrs. Valas, a lawyer at Fidelity Charitable Gifts, loves the idea of her husband carrying around protection for his heart.
"So much can happen in just a few minutes," she