A Clairemont man is sharing his story of survival in the hopes of inspiring more people to learn CPR.
In June, Frans VanLeeuwen, 65, suffered a heart attack inside his home while sitting on his couch.
A family friend, Whitney Pratt, immediately began performing CPR on VanLeeuwen. After learning CPR 15 years ago, this was the first time she used it.
“I thought it was a stroke or cardiac arrest, and I thought, I’m not going to hurt him by starting compression,” Pratt said.
Within two minutes, San Diego Fire-Rescue Paramedics from the nearby Station 36 had arrived and continued CPR.
Kris VanLeeuwen, his son, was among concerned family members watching the heart attack unfold. Kris is also a paramedic from the fire department who rushed home to be by his father’s side. He said CPR was performed for about 30 minutes, which in his experience, is not a good sign.
“You would think best case scenario after something like that, maybe he’d be on life support for the rest of his life,” Kris said.
In fact, Frans was taken off life support at the hospital. Doctors told his family that he had no brain activity, and he was given his last rites. But then, he started coughing.
“I should not be here, yet somehow, the good lord decided to, it's not my time yet, so I'm very, very happy,” Frans said.
Given a new lease on life, Frans is now hopeful others will hear his story and be inspired to learn CPR.
“The reality is hitting every day of what happened to me, and I hope that what will happen is that people really take CPR to heart, so if that story can be told, that CPR is a very simple procedure but anybody can just do it, it will save a life," Frans said.
CPR lessons are given through the city’s San Diego Project Heart Beat. More information about the project can be found here.