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Memorial Physician Saves More than Money While Shopping at Local Store


March 2004 — It seems you can find everything you need at Wal-Mart – even a physician. When Miguel Mezerhane, MD, family physician on the medical staff at Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Pembroke, went to Wal-Mart on June 1st, 2003, he was planning to do some routine shopping. However, he arrived just in time to save more than a few dollars. When Dr. Mezerhane tells the story, he makes it clear that he didn't do it alone.

A Call to Action

As Dr. Mezerhane entered the store, he recalls that an employee recognized him and told him about a medical emergency in the parking lot. Fifty-four-year-old Jim was not breathing or moving, and his friend Pedro was already trying to get a response from him. Dr. Mezerhane sent someone to call 911. Using a one-way facemask from Wal-Mart's emergency medical equipment supplies, Dr. Mezerhane began cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques.

Soon after, Gaye Belgrave, a registered nurse practitioner from Miramar, and Lori Kobetz, a registered nurse from Pembroke Pines, arrived on the scene and began external cardiac massage. About 10 minutes later, emergency medical services (EMS) arrived, and intubated and revived Jim. While he was being transported to Memorial Hospital West, Dr. Mezerhane called ER physician Mark Sabbota, DO, to give him a heads up about the incoming patient.

Beating the Odds

"I dropped dead," says Jim, a resident of Pembroke Pines, "and Dr. Mezerhane and the nurses kept me going until the ambulance arrived. I talked to my brother, who is a physician, and he said that only 3 percent of patients survive cardiac arrest, and I was one of them." Jim was sent by Dr. Sabbota to Memorial Regional Hospital where he underwent emergency quadruple bypass surgery. "The staff went out of their way to perform surgery on a Sunday,� says Jim. He then continued his cardiac care with Ariel Soffer, MD, cardiologist on the medical staff at Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Pembroke.

Dr. Mezerhane and the two nurses who assisted Jim visited him the Tuesday following his surgery. Jim expressed his thanks to Dr. Mezerhane, saying, "You saved my life." But Dr. Mezerhane was humble, responding that he didn't require any thanks because he "was doing what any good Samaritan would do."

A Life-Saving Team

Miguel Mezerhane, MD

Miguel Mezerhane, MD
Family Physician

Brian Polner, MD

Brian Polner, MD

In addition to his insistence on sharing Jim's gratitude, Dr. Mezerhane is emphatic about the role that teamwork played in this incident. Jim survived and recovered through the efforts of many: his friend Pedro; the Wal-Mart employee who sent Dr. Mezerhane into the parking lot; the two nurses; the EMS team; Dr. Sabbota in the ER; the Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute surgical team; Brian Polner, MD, an internist on the medical staff at Memorial Hospital West; and the rehabilitation team at Memorial Hospital West Fitness Center.

Not only did Jim survive cardiac arrest, but he is now walking four miles a day and attending Johnson and Wales University Culinary School to become a chef. When told about how Dr. Mezerhane wanted to recognize the entire team that helped to save him, Jim said, "He's a good guy."

Dr. Mezerhane was honored on August 6, 2003, by the City of Pembroke Pines for his part in saving the life of Jim. Pedro, Gaye Belgrave and Lori Kobetz were also recognized for their work to revive Jim.

If you are concerned about your risk for heart disease, speak to your physician. For referral to a physician, please call the Memorial Physician Referral Service at (800) 944-DOCS.