CALGARY — A Saskatchewan man who had a heart attack after a hike in the Rocky Mountains says it was divine intervention that the same cardiac surgeon who helped resuscitate him near the trail would operate on him days later.
Darrell Parker, his wife, Shirley, and their son and daughter-in-law were hiking on June 20 at Grassi Lakes, a popular trail near Canmore, Alta.
Dr. Corey Adams and his family, who had recently moved to Calgary from St. John’s, N.L., were enjoying their first hike in the Rockies in that day along with some friends.
“I don’t have a lot of recollection of that day itself,” Parker, 60, said Monday while recovering at home in Paradise Hill, Sask. “I lost 99 per cent of it during the event.”
His wife said they hiked to the end of a trail and back, sat down for a snack and started making their way back to their truck.
“Darrell fell behind us and we never thought anything of it,” she said. ”He usually walks slower than we do.”
Their son, Travis, went back to look and saw that Parker had collapsed by the road and people were trying to help him.
Adams was two cars behind the commotion.
At first he thought there had been a crash, but then someone told him that a man was unconscious.
A bystander was performing CPR when Adams and his wife, who is a gynecologist, asked if they could help.
“We repositioned him and actually found that he was completely blue and had no pulse,” Adams said.
They tried to resuscitate Parker for 20 minutes. When paramedics arrived, they used defibrilators to shock his heart into restarting. They also inserted a breathing tube.
Once Parker was stable enough, he was rushed to hospital in Canmore and from there to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
He woke up after a few days in an induced coma in the intensive care unit. Adams came to visit and explained what had happened.
“It felt like there was some divine intervention happening,” Parker said.
Adams, with the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the University of Calgary, performed five bypasses on Parker during a more than four-hour operation nine days after the heart attack.
“I’m very encouraged with his prognosis,” Adams said. ”I bet you next year this time he’s back doing that hike again.”
Parker was discharged from hospital Sunday. He said he had no idea he had heart blockages and frequently goes for long walks.
He figures it will be three months before he can return to work in the oilfields, where he’s often alone in remote locations.
“If this would have happened to me at work, it probably wouldn’t have ended up the same way. If this would have happened to me at my home, it wouldn’t have turned out the same way,” he said.
“It was the best place in the world for this to happen, where it happened. The right people were there … it’s a divine event that saved my life somehow.”
He said his three children and four grandchildren can’t wait to visit.
Adams said Parker owes his survival to a group of strangers who pitched in to help.
“It was a very good team effort and that’s the reason in my mind why Darrell is here today,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.