Grateful Patient: Robert A. Murphy

Robert Murphy Chambersburg Hospital Cath Lab Team Robert Murphy Grateful Patient Program

This is his story.

“I wasn’t feeling good at work.  I remember clocking out and saying to our production manager ’I don’t feel good.  I’m going home.’

My house wasn’t far so I thought I’d be ok.  But, on the way, it got really bad.  I called my wife, Teresa, and asked her to be in the driveway. I said I thought I was having a heart attack. I knew I needed to get to the hospital. I was almost home. 
                                                                                
As I pulled into my driveway, the pain was running up through my jaws and down my arm. The worst pain was in my chest. It was crushing. I couldn’t breath. Teresa was already outside, waiting with our little grand daughter. 

The last thing I remember is getting out and falling across the hood of Teresa’s car.”

Teresa Murphy knew she was breaking the speed limit on Interstate 81.  But, she knew things were very bad with her husband. She had to get him to help or he was going to die in front of her.

“At one point I remember waking up in the car and seeing a red pick up truck beside us.  The driver was angry.  He kept speeding up so Teresa couldn’t get ahead of him.  I was trying to motion to him that I was having a heart attack.  He either didn’t understand, or didn’t care. His response was not very nice.”

Teresa had no time for the other driver’s road rage.  She pressed on the gas pedal and shot ahead determined to get Bob to Chambersburg Hospital.

“As we pulled up to the front of the Emergency entrance, I remember staggering out of the car into the building.  Teresa ran behind me screaming ‘My husband’s having a heart attack! Help us!’

I just collapsed. Everything went black.

I was dead for 7 minutes, but, they never gave up. The doctors and nurses there saved my life.  No… they gave my life back to me.”I woke up five days later grateful to be alive. My wife and daughters told me what happened.

Sarah Stewart - Robert Murphy's Daughter

Sarah Stewart – A Daughter’s Faith 

My dad was dying before my eyes. 

I felt like I couldn’t breath.  Dad was whisked away. My mom was breaking down beside me.People in scrubs were beside him,  on top of him – all over him – working to restart his heart.  He was colorless.   His lifeless body was lying on an emergency room stretcher.

Amidst the scene all around me, I tried to get centered. I’m usually shy, but not that day. I looked up at the chaplain who had arrived to help us, and I surprised myself and said with calm certainty “I need to go pray over my father.” “Please Mom, try to get a hold of yourself,” I cried.  “I can’t lose both of you today.” All I could think to do was pray. 

Quickly the chaplain led me to the emergency bay where my father was being treated.

There was someone squeezing an oxygen bag on his mouth and nose, another was doing chest compressions.

Robert Murphy in Cath lab

My dad was surrounded on all sides by hospital staff trying to save his life. It felt like a scene from a television drama…except this was very real and it was my dad.

The chaplain said “This is Mr. Murphy’s daughter and she would like to pray over her father.”  As if on cue, the room went silent. A nurse jumped off the gurney, and a path opened for me.

One of the nurses pulled me to my father’s side.

As I gripped my dad’s cool hand in mine, I quietly prayed aloud for his life to be spared. And, if that fate was not to be, I asked for the grace and strength to handle his loss.

The words were simple and the prayer brief, but I knew it was a huge request. I backed away so the doctors and nurses could resume their work.  It was in God’s hands, and theirs.

Emergency physician Dr. David Marx came over to me later and put his arm around my shoulder.  My prayer had deeply moved him.

I said how much it meant to me that the hospital staff had immediately respected my wish for that moment with my dad.

They had shocked my father’s heart 19 times before he was revived.

He was taken to the Cardiac Cath Lab for a heart procedure to stabilize his condition. 

Dr. Marx, pulmonologist Dr. Gregory Brown, and cardiologist Dr. Aylmer Tang all say he’s a miracle.  I’m so grateful to have my wonderful dad, Robert A. Murphy, with me today.  Thank you.

Teresa Murphy’s story 

“One thing I can tell you is life can change in a minute.”

Robert A. Murphy is lucky to be alive.That minute came for Teresa when Robert, her husband of 35 years, collapsed in the Emergency Department at Chambersburg Hospital with a devastating heart attack.  His was what is referred to as a Widow-Maker, a primary coronary artery blockage.

“I kept praying, and telling Bob he couldn’t leave me.  I was just so distraught.  I kept telling him about the plans we made,” Teresa recalled.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening. I almost passed out. They thought I was having a heart attack too. My daughter said, ‘Mom, I can’t lose you both today!’ so I tried to calm down.”

Teresa Murphy has lively blue eyes, a contagious smile, and an engaging accent that can be from none other than the state of Virginia. These days she never takes her eyes off Robert. Her fear from almost losing him that night is still all too real. She keeps him close.

“He was dead for a long period of time,” Teresa said matter-of-factly.  “I was told it was over 7 minutes.  All the doctors that worked on him, and the nurses, kept up an exhausting, intensive labor to save his life.”

It clearly pains Teresa to think back on that grim day. “They wanted to give me something to help me calm down,” she remembers and her eyes grow concerned at the thought. “I knew if I took something and couldn’t be there for him, he’d die.”

It’s hard for her to think what might have happened if Bob hadn’t gotten the care he did. “They had to shock him 19 times.

They just never gave up. Dr. Marx and Dr. Tang saved his life. They say he’s a miracle,” Teresa says with tears in her eyes. “…and Dr. (Gregory) Brown and the wonderful CCU nurses were the ones who kept him alive.”

Teresa beams at her husband. “He’s getting better every day,” she says as she plants a loving kiss on his cheek. Bob smiles back at her. The feeling is mutual.

Murphy Family in Cath Lab

A Family’s Thanks

I will be forever grateful to the Emergency staff who revived me over and over again, the Cardiology team who worked so fast to open my blocked arteries so my blood could flow again, and to the CCU doctors and nurses who worked so hard to keep me alive after all those others brought me back from death.

Thank you, Chambersburg Hospital, for giving me this second chance at life.                                     
                 
 - Robert A. Murphy, Shippensburg, PA

Our deepest appreciation goes to everyone who had a hand in saving my father’s life.  Without their skill and expertise - and the equipment to help them work their miracles - the outcome may have been different.  Thank you, Chambersburg Hospital, for giving me more time with my dad, and for being there when we needed you.                                                               

- Sarah Stewart, Chambersburg PA

“We’ll just deal with whatever comes next. Thanks to Dr. Marx, Dr. Tang, Dr. Brown, and all the staff who save his life, Bob’s here and that’s all that matters.”

- Teresa Murphy, Shippensburg, PA

Robert Murphy and Dr. Tang

EPILOGUE

Robert Murphy survived his heart attack.  But, he may have a way to go before returning to his job as a foundry supervisor. His heart muscle is damaged. He’s had to have a second stent and he still has some pain. The long time Bob spent with his heart stopped may be the reason for some residual memory problems.  But, Bob is happy to be alive.

We hope you never need it but isn’t it good to know that care like Robert Murphy received is here when you need it?

Without the quick response of the ED, the skilled cardiac interventions, and the tender loving care in the hospital’s CCU, his outcome may have been very different.

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