Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. Even young, physically-active families are not immune to its unexpected and potentially life-threatening impact.
Gina and Aaron Mischel experienced this sobering fact first hand, and are now forever grateful for the close-to-home care they received at Providence that helped to save Gina’s life.
Gina and Aaron are parents to four busy kids. And Aaron’s work for the family business, Electric Mirror, keeps him on a busy schedule around the world. Like many young families, they are always on the go. But unlike many young families, Gina woke up one night with an unexpected heart event.
It was about 4 a.m. when Gina awoke in tremendous pain. “It felt like something was trying to break out of my chest,” she said.
In a panic, Gina and Aaron Mischel drove to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Once they parked outside the Emergency Department, Gina said she felt fine. So they opted to relax in their vehicle for a few minutes in case it was simply an anxiety attack.
But, Gina wasn’t fine. Moments later, Aaron glanced across the vehicle to find her slumped over in her seat. He couldn’t find a pulse. At that moment he knew it was serious. He started CPR with Gina lying on the sidewalk and called for help.
Gina was rushed inside and Aaron watched helplessly as emergency department staff performed CPR. He looked at the machines monitoring his wife’s heart rate and other vital signs. He only saw zeros. His mom’s advice came to mind: “When you don’t know what to do, you pray.”
For 20 minutes, Providence providers worked on Gina. They performed CPR. Three times they tried to shock her heart to life with a defibrillator.
“I just stood there, holding her feet, and prayed and prayed for God’s healing power!’” Aaron also encouraged and cheered for the People of Providence fighting to save Gina’s life.
And then it happened. Against all odds, Gina’s heart began beating again.
As Gina was wheeled away for further testing and treatment, a nurse told Aaron: “Normally, I don’t go to church. I’m going to tomorrow. This was a miracle.”
At that point, however, a happy ending wasn’t a guarantee. Gina’s brain was deprived of oxygen for 20 minutes. There could be brain damage, the doctors warned. But Aaron’s faith didn’t waver.
For 48 hours, Aaron and family were at Gina’s bedside. Finally, after 24 hours, Gina squeezed nurse Jose’s hand. Then, for the next 18 hours, there was no improvement. Aaron had never gone so long without hearing Gina’s voice. All he could do was wait.
Finally, Gina awoke. She looked around, realized she was in the hospital and asked: “Did we have a baby?” She had no idea why else she’d be in a hospital bed.
Tests showed Gina had a heart attack and cardiac arrest caused by a blockage in an artery near her heart. “The doctor told me he could fix it with his eyes closed,” Aaron said jokingly. “I asked him to please keep them open. This is my wife, after all.”
Three days after arriving at Providence, Gina was fine. No after-effects. No brain damage. “Go home. Live your life,” the doctor told her.
Gina did go home—healthy again—Gina and Aaron Mischel have resumed their busy life. But not without reflecting on their experience at Providence. “When you get saved,” Gina said, “you want to give back.”
And they are. The Mischels and Electric Mirror recently made a generous gift to Providence in support of advancing its clinical programs including Heart & Vascular through “Compassion 25:40,” the company’s corporate giving program inspired by Matthew 25:40.
“We were so impressed with the care Gina received at Providence,” Aaron said. “We’re 10 minutes away from one of the best hospitals in the nation. That brings us great peace of mind.”
“They’re God’s helpers,” Gina said of her caregivers. “It isn’t just about a paycheck for them. It’s their calling—and it shows. We are blessed to get to give back. We want more success stories.”