Dean Fasel, of San Pierre, stands outside his home. He survived a brain hemorrhage after being declared brain-dead. Kale Wilk, The Times

Dean Fasel was at work in Kouts one day in April when he told his co-workers he thought his brain was bleeding.

It was.

He lowered himself to the ground, then passed out. His co-workers came to his aid. An ambulance took him to a local hospital, where the medical staff thought he was already brain-dead.

They conferred with Dr. Hamad Farhat, a neurosurgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center. He said Fasel still had brain activity but wouldn't for long.

"They were just amazed he was alive," said Fasel's wife, Carol.

Still unconscious, Fasel was transferred to the Oak Lawn, Illinois, hospital, where he went into emergency surgery. He awoke from his coma soon after.

"Dean would not have survived without immediate surgery," Farhat said. "During the surgery he lost three liters of blood."

He had suffered a brain hemorrhage due to an arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins. The congenital condition can progress over the lifetime and also present in the form of a seizure or stroke-like symptoms.

Fasel, 61, underwent a second procedure five days later. He spent two weeks in the hospital, then another three weeks doing rehab in Hobart.

Fasel, a laborer who lives in San Pierre, is now out of work. He walks with a cane. He has problems with dizziness and his vision. But he's alive, and without cognitive deficits.

For that, his wife is grateful.

"If he would not have been working, if he had been fishing or hunting on his own, he wouldn't have had anybody to help him and he wouldn't have survived," she said.

She did the talking during a recent interview because his voice was weak from the incident.

"They got him to Christ in the nick of time," she said.

He has even gotten back into hunting and fishing, thanks to a buddy who takes him out.

"He's had a lot of friend and family support," Carol said.