HOBART | Teiseer Haddad, 22, was all smiles as he walked into Charter Fitness on Thursday to thank employees who saved his life.
"The doctors have told me they have no answer as to why my heart stopped. ... I thank those who helped me here very much," Haddad said.
Haddad, a Hammond resident who moved to the U.S. from Jordan, singled out for praise assistant manager Jorge Almedina, who administered CPR, and employee Sarah Gacsy, who brought back a defibrillator used to get his heart started again after it had stopped.
A nurse, who is a member of the health club, is also credited with administering the defibrillator. She has declined to have her named publicized, Charter officials said.
Haddad, a six-month member of the health club on U.S. 6, said he remembers very little of his last visit there on the night of Oct. 30.
He remembers working in the free weight area of the club, then trying to reach for the wall right before he collapsed.
"I couldn't see and I couldn't hear. I couldn't move," Haddad said.
Gacsy said she was working at the front desk when two members ran up and told her someone had passed out and had no pulse.
Almedina called 911 then went back to Haddad to begin administering CPR
"He started breathing, but still had no pulse and that's when an off-duty nurse who was working out here came to help," Almedina said.
Once the defibrillator was administered Haddad regained a pulse.
Hobart Emergency Medical Services officials arrived and transported Haddad to St. Mary Medical Center for assessment.
Haddad said doctors there couldn't find a reason for his heart stopping, but inserted a pacemaker to keep his heart beating regularly.
For Almedina, who is 21, the incident was an eye-opener.
"I'm just glad I was certified and able to react. You don't expect that to happen especially to someone close to my age," Almedina said.
Tito Garcia Sr., regional manager for Charter Fitness, said it's a requirement that there be at least one employee during all shifts who is CPR and AED certified.
"We're just happy a life was saved and ecstatic our employees reacted courageously to save a person's life," Garcia said.
Haddad, who points to the spot in his chest where the new pacemaker has been placed, doesn't plan to give up his workouts.
"I'm coming back to the health club tomorrow," Haddad said.