Man reunites with nurses who saved his life

Posted at 5:20 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 21:53:39-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. - A man brought back to life after his heart stopped in January was able to meet his three 'heroes' face-to-face at a special reunion held at Mercy Health on Wednesday.

Doctors at Mercy Health in Muskegon say Michael Thayler experienced a sudden cardiac death during a Run Muskegon club meeting. Thankfully, three off-duty nurses from the hospital were having drinks at a nearby restaurant when Thayler collapsed.

"We might be nurses but we didn't do anything that anyone trained in basic CPR couldn't have done," said Rose Emmons, one of the nurses who saved Thayler's life.

Emmons was accompanied by Cindra Bringedahl and Martha Tutak during the rescue. The three are longtime friends and nurses at Mercy Health in Muskegon. The women humbly said they were just doing their job at Wednesday's reunion with Thayler.

"I don't remember anything from when I collapsed," Thayler said.

The nurses said Thayler collapsed in an alleyway during a warm-up run with the Run Muskegon runner's club near Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. and the L.C. Walker Arena. Lucky for Thayler, it happened just a few blocks away from where the three nurses were having drinks.

"Emmons thought he had a seizure and had fallen, and when we assessed him we found no pulse and (his heart) arrested," Emmons said.

The nurses performed CPR on Michael as runners from the group were told to grab an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from Walker Arena.

"The fact that we were two doors down at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, and for Walker Arena to be open was exceptional," Cindra said.

Wednesday, doctors told Thayler the shock from the AED saved his life.

“What happened is labeled as sudden cardiac death," said Dr. Dirk Bonnema at Mercy Health. "Yours is a special one because we label it as an aborted sudden cardiac death. Ultimately, treatment was surgery where we did Coronary Bypass grafting to restore blood flow to all areas of the heart."

All of this happened roughly a month after Thayler had a brain tumor removed, which was just one day before his birthday. Today Michael says he's living lift to the fullest. Under close supervision, Thayler is back on the road and running.