Jerry Watson and his family at Pioneer Park in Santa Maria

Jerry Watson

Cardiac patient is living proof that medicine makes miracles happen

It was July 13, 2013, and Jerry Watson was at Santa Maria’s Annual Pioneer Picnic, enjoying the day with longtime friends–until he collapsed.

Jerry’s heart function had ceased abruptly and without warning as he was experiencing a massive heart attack caused by a full blockage, known as a STEMI heart attack. In the coming hours and days Jerry’s life would hang in the balance between life and death. It would take a total of seven defibrillation shocks, emergency cardiac catheterization intervention and a medically-induced coma for Jerry to be brought back to life.

Paramedics transported Jerry to Marian Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department and while en route Jerry coded three times. As part of the STEMI protocol, a regional heart attack response program and streamlined process proven to improve heart attack outcomes, Marian physicians, nurses and medical professionals were immediately informed of Jerry’s serious condition and were prepared for his arrival.Once in the catheterization laboratory, Jerry coded not only once, but a total of four more times while cardiologist Samir Bhatt, M.D., and cath lab staff repaired the blocked artery to Jerry’s heart.

Although Jerry does not remember many events that took place on July 13, 2013, and the days following, he is certain of one thing, “I was lucky; everything happened at the right time and because of the folks at Marian, I’m here today.”

Robin Patten, Jerry's daughter, explains, “I remember being in the Critical Care Unit when my eight-year-old grandson, Kody, was noticeably concerned for his great-grandpa. Jim Wahlig, a respiratory therapist, also saw his fear as he reached for his great-grandpa’s foot and it was frozen to touch. Jim knelt down to Kody’s level and took the extra time to explain why his great-grandpa was in a cold suit and how the cold suit was going to help heal him. It’s this special level of care for which we will forever be grateful. Not only do I still have my dad, but everyone at Marian cared for my dad the way I care for him and there are not enough words to express our gratitude.”