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June 18, 2012

US Open cardiac arrest victim resuscitated by medics

Man collapsed on 15th hole; first memory is waking up after defibrillation in ambulance

By Marcus Thompson II
The Contra Costa Times

SAN FRANCISCO — His was the comeback story of the weekend, the one Tiger Woods couldn't pull off. It had all the elements — struggle, survival, even the Father's Day touch — that make Sundays at the U.S. Open special.

But you won't find Salahuddin Ghori's name anywhere on the leaderboard. He wasn't even at Olympic Club on Sunday. Instead Ghori, 61, was at his Modesto home watching the championship round with his son.

"When I get better," Ghori said. "I'm going back to Olympic Club and I'm going to put yellow and white roses down at the 15th hole."

That's the spot where Ghori suffered a heart attack Thursday during first-round action at the Lake Course. He was unresponsive for several minutes — perhaps even clinically dead — until the paramedics jumpstarted his heart with an automated external defibrillator on the ride to nearby Seton Medical Center.

On Saturday, he was released from the hospital, his clogged arteries cleaned out via coronary angioplasty. Thanks to quick medical attention and some very good fortune, it was a great Father's Day.

"I'm not a very emotionally open person, but I had moments where I cried by myself," said Ghori's son, Zaid, 30, who had purchased the Open ticket for his father for $110 off Craigslist days before.

Ghori was only at Olympic Club as a Father's Day gift from his son. Zaid, knowing his dad was a golf junkie and huge fan of Vijay Singh, figured sending him to the major tournament would be the perfect gift. Little did they know just how perfect.

Having a rough time since immigrating to the U.S. in January 2011, Ghori had been contemplating a return to his native India. Had that been where those blocked arteries manifested, son figures the outcome would've been much different.

"It's good that this happened now and it happened here," he said. "If he had gone to India and this happened, we would have lost him."

The Ghoris' appreciation for the U.S. Open setup, for the Seton Medical Center, for a stranger named John Paul, for the United States - it all makes sense when the whole story is revealed.

A native of India, Ghori practiced medicine in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia as an emergency room physician. But he isn't licensed to be a doctor in America. He said he found it hard to support himself and his wife, Reshma, who was a pediatrician in Nigeria, since they immigrated here in January 2011. The former doctors don't even have medical insurance.

A few odd jobs here and there allow Ghori to pitch in. But he said his son, who is American-born and works in Oakland helping international students pursue higher education, bears the burden. That's why Ghori, after nearly four years of trying to make America his home, wanted to go back to India.

"If anything happens, the whole thing falls on him," he said of his son. "A parent is very worried about what happens to their kids. If he's spending everything on the parents, what happens to him?"

Zaid, aware of his dad's stress, still doesn't want him to leave. Part of the reason he went the extra mile this Father's Day was to give his dad a morale boost. He said he remembers how their house in Nigeria was littered with his dad's golf trophies. And he knows his dad is a die-hard Singh fan.

You can imagine how excited Ghori was as he took off for Olympic Club early Thursday. So excited he took pictures of himself, dressed and ready to go, on his cell phone before leaving the house.

Upon arrival, he walked straight to the ninth hole to see Singh. Ghori gasped when he saw him tee off at 10, cheered when he birdied 13. It was on 15 when Ghori decided he would start following Tiger Woods, but not until he saw Singh on the green at 15.

So Ghori, hustling for one last close-up of his favorite golfer, started up a small hill.

"I remember running and then that was it. I blacked out," Ghori said. "I woke up in the ambulance when they shocked me."

Ghori fell to the ground. He was limp, not breathing, faint pulse.

"That was terrible," Chris Gold, caddie and manager for 14-year-old Andy Zhang, said Thursday. "I didn't want (Zhang) to look at that. They were trying to get him back to life. We went over there and Vijay was over there, and Zach (Johnson) was over there praying. It was sad."

Ghori was fortunate to have collapsed near Dr. Thomas Hazelhurst, a board member at Seton Medical Center. He performed CPR at the scene. A man named John Paul, who Ghori had met on the BART ride over to Olympic Club, rode with Ghori in the ambulance.

On the way to the hospital, Ghori flatlined. After he was revived, doctors discovered three blockages, all cleared in a surgery performed by Dr. Felix Millhouse at Seton.

"The doctors said I am one of the very, very, very lucky ones," Ghori said. "Less than five percent of people actually survive."

So Ghori's heart is on the mend, his life saved, thanks to a series of fortunate-though-terrifying events. A golf tournament with all the proper measures in place. A hospital that valued the life of a patient over his inability to pay. A stranger who made sure he wasn't alone.

And it all started with a Father's Day present from his son. Which is why, on Sunday, Ghori returned the favor and gave his son a gift.

"I'm not going back to India," he said he told his son. "I'm going to stay here with him. He's very good to us."

Copyright 2012 Contra Costa Newspapers
All Rights Reserved

Comments
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Elizabeth Kane Carter Elizabeth Kane Carter Tuesday, June 19, 2012 8:50:18 PM I can't help but wonder... if the doctor hadn't been right there to start CPR, would the outcome have been the same? How many people in that crowd were trained in CPR? It's something we'll never know. If you don't know CPR, please just look up how to do it. You won't be certified, but "something is better than nothing!"
John Thomas John Thomas Tuesday, June 19, 2012 9:24:39 PM Learned when. I. Was just a kid but if. I was the only person there a lawsuit would be my. Last thought. I would do 12345 tilt head plug nose breathe. It might be wrong but that is what I would do.
Elizabeth Kane Carter Elizabeth Kane Carter Tuesday, June 19, 2012 9:48:27 PM SOOOO much has changed over the years. The ratio of compressions to rescue breaths is now 30 compressions to two rescue breaths. However, if you don't have a breathing barrier(to protect yourself from diseases that can be transmitted through bodily fluids) you can do Compressions-Only-CPR. That's where you don't stop to do rescue breaths, but just do continual compressions. A fact that many people don't know is that 80% of the time a person performs CPR, it's on a family member or someone you're close to!! That includes kids, parents, friends, girl friends, etc!!!
Gina Cordova-Parrill Gina Cordova-Parrill Wednesday, June 20, 2012 12:40:30 PM I find this article interesting. I was there and witnessed it. When the gentleman collapsed, a female anesthesiologist and her husband, who is also an anesthesiologist, immediately started CPR and managing his airway. They were there the entire time until the paramedics came and shocked his heart. Who wrote this article anyway? Get the facts straight!
Steven Hull Steven Hull Wednesday, June 20, 2012 5:03:24 PM Twice I was a first aid supervisor with Red Cross for the US Open at the Olympic Club. I guess Red Cross doesn't do it anymore. It is a hard event to staff. It is about 7-9 days long and about 12-14 hours per day. You would be amazed at how many spectators get hurt or stop in to first aid tents each day due to golf balls, falls, drunk stumbles, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, bee stings, car accidents, CART accidents etc. This course has a lot of steep areas that you need to be in shape for just to keep up with the calls.Radio communications can sometimes be spotty. the temperature can be from 45 and foggy to 85 and sunny. Population from 40-80 years old. It is not uncommon to get a "cardiac call" each day and a full code once or twice during the event. One year at this event we had 4 drunks that stole then drove a golf cart over a steep embankment. The cart tumbled and landed on them until it hit a tree. 6 Red Cross first aiders (mostly EMTs) 3 full blown extrications with backboardings, up a hill with no ropes, 4 ambulances, 20 cops, 200 by-standers and it wasn't even 2 in the afternoon on Saturday. This was one incident of the 180+ people we saw each day. A US Open is not the quiet little "band-aid" sport we see on TV. At least not for the medical staff at the event like this.
Steven Hull Steven Hull Wednesday, June 20, 2012 5:16:19 PM Well Said Gina, I wish more of the stores that get on this EMS related blog were checked before they get up here for us all to comment on. They comment on a half story and it is usually the" wrong half" I wish that this forum had access to more of an incident report & patient case review than what the CUB reporter wrote and got picked up as fact.

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