before Repshas was discharged. Repshas has a very rare (1-2 per 1,000,000 people) condition called left ventricle noncompaction cardiomyopathy. Bernard said there are doctors who’ve been at MUSC for three decades who haven’t seen this type of case. It’s an abnormal development of heart muscle where the muscle fibers do not form a compact layer. Instead the muscle fibers are loosely packed in almost a sponge-like manner, which can lead to heart failure, arrhythmias and other heart disorders. Repshas was treated with a hypothermia protocol where the body core temperature is cooled for 24 hours and then slowly rewarmed to a normal temperature. During this time, Repshas was sedated in a drug-induced coma and carefully monitored in the ICU. Bernard said the procedure has been shown to reduce brain injury after cardiac arrests. Bernard praised how Skeele handled the situation, encouraging everyone who can learn CPR to do so. “She provided prompt CPR that probably made the difference in his outcome. Providing early and sustained CPR is one of the most important factors in survival. After sudden cardiac death, there is a very narrow window to successfully resuscitate somebody. After only five to 10 minutes, survival approaches zero percent. The fact that she recognized the situation and acted accordingly saved Justin’s life.”
This experience has changed me. It’s connected me to what I want to do.” - Meg Skeele
As for Skeele, she said the event changed her life. She has found nursing takes her heart and soul. “It takes everything about yourself. I’ve learned a lot about myself and what people have to go through when they’re sick. This experience has changed me. It’s connected me to what I want to do.” She knows now more than ever that she has chosen the right profession. In school nursing students hear how they will make a difference in patients’ lives, but having it actually happen was inspirational for her, she said. Repshas, who has returned to school, said the experience has changed him as well. “I feel very, very lucky to come out as strong as I was before. It was very scary.” He’s very grateful that Skeele and Bernard showed up when they did, and the support he got from emergency personnel, the City of Charleston police and friends who
helped to get him identified and MUSC staff. “Words can’t explain how grateful I am. They saved my life. It was a really fortunate series of events that day. It gives you a different outlook in life. The small things in life matter more. I couldn’t be happier to be here with my friends and family.”
MEG’s Story The events that transpired that random Tuesday and the days that followed were nothing short of serendipitous. After processing everything and repeating the story countless times, it has finally begun to hit me how miraculous it really was. It all seemed quite matter-of-fact at the time. It was only later that the magnitude of what did happen and could have happened struck me. I think the most anxious part of the whole experience was the next 16 hours. Despite my best efforts, I could not find out the runner’s condition, or if he was even alive. I was trying to accept that I would never know his fate when I received an email from Carolyn Page forwarding a message from Dr. Bernard. Despite all odds, the patient had been brought to Med-U instead of Roper and was placed randomly on Dr. Bernard’s unit. Because of that last minute route change, I was eventually able to meet his mother, sister, and friends—one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. A couple of weeks later I met the family again at a local coffee shop where I was finally introduced to Justin. I don’t have the words to describe how emotional that experience was. We are both still trying to wrap our heads around that meeting and what happened on the street corner. I have always thought that everything happens for a reason and I believe that was epitomized on December 13th. Everything that occurred was caused by small random acts, which culminated in an event that forever changed both of our lives.
Spring | summer 2012
MUSC College of Nursing magazine - Spring/Summer 2012