March is National Red Cross month. It takes just a moment to sign up for a CPR course at your local branch. It also takes one instant for our lives to change, for someone you love to need life-saving intervention. What if we’re the only ones around to provide it? Sure, there’s 911, but with emergencies like cardiac arrest, seconds count.
One evening in 2016, new father, Luke Benrud walked into his kitchen to find his wife, Andrea on the floor. Standing there, holding their 5-week-old son, Aiden, he figured she’d tripped over a step while walking inside there home, but after seeing his wife’s face turn a bright purple, Luke knew something was wrong.
“I checked her head, and there wasn’t any blood, then I realized she didn’t have a heartbeat, or anything,” Bedrud, 31, of Appleton, Wisconsin, tells PEOPLE. “I set Aiden down, he’s screaming, and I got on the phone with 911. I had them on speakerphone while I’m giving Andrea chest compressions with my 5-week-old screaming in the background and our dogs running around.”
Despite the commotion of the dogs and the baby, Luke stayed focused. After what seemed like an eternity, the purplish hue of Andrea’s face faded, a sign the chest compressions he administered were effective.
“I knew where you needed to do the compressions, and I remember that you have to do them harder than you would think you’d have to do them,” he recalls. “You do them faster and harder than you would think, especially when it’s your wife, right? You don’t want to hurt her, but I knew you have to do them with enough pressure.”
Luke was on the phone with 911 and doing compressions for seven minutes; paramedics finally arrived. The operator told him he needed to restrain his dogs. Luke wasn’t leaving Andrea’s side until someone was ready to take his place.
Emergency responders shocked Andrea twice with a defibrillator. For Luke, watching them work to save her life was the most challenging part of this ordeal. “As I did CPR and talked to 911 with Aiden screaming, my adrenaline was going, and I was in the moment not really processing what’s going on, just doing what I needed to do,” he says. “Once I’m standing there holding Aiden watching someone else give Andrea CPR and hook her up to the defibrillator, that’s when it hit me, the gravity of the situation.”
Husband Saves Wife by Administering CPR as She Went Into Cardiac Arrest Weeks After Giving Birth
Posted by PeopleTV on Sunday, March 11, 2018
Andrea was placed in the ICU for three days. Doctors put her in a drug-induced coma and a hypothermic state where they slowly raised her body temperature. Because her heart had been arrested for so long, they wanted to minimize any brain damage. But their precautions weren’t a sure thing. She could still have suffered brain damage. They’d only know how she faired after she’d be brought out of the coma.
“Those were a pretty hard three days with the little one at home,” Luke says, “not knowing how she was going to come out of all this.”
Andrea was lucky. She didn’t experience brain damage thanks to the quick thinking of her husband. Doctors did diagnose her with a heart condition called non-compaction syndrome. This is what caused her to go into cardiac arrest that night. Thanks to a procedure, Andrea now has an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, (ICD), a device that’s the size of a stopwatch doctors inserted just below her collarbone that monitors and maintains a regular heartbeat; she isn’t expected to have any further heart complications.
Luke is grateful Andrea is all right. He’s thankful he had the foresight to take the CPR class years ago. He registered on a whim; it’s something he’ll never regret.
“It’s a really easy thing to do. I know it’s easy for people to think that they’re never going to need that skill, or something like that is never gonna happen to them, or their family is healthy, or whatever,” he says. “But we’re a perfect example of how it can literally happen to anybody.”
Luke knows how different his world could be if he hadn’t taken those life-saving classes. “If it wasn’t for me knowing CPR, knowing what to do, Andrea probably wouldn’t be here today,” he says. “I would probably be raising our son on my own. It was just a huge awakening for us on how quickly life can change.”