Leah Schmidt, RN, has dedicated her life to service and caring for those around her. She is a veteran, a former Emergency Department Nurse (at Mount Carmel East), a cancer survivor, past Pelotonia participant, and an overall source of positivity. Not to mention she’s done this by the age of 34.

Just over a year ago, Leah was a newlywed when she underwent sudden cardiac arrest, just a few weeks following the wedding.

Leah’s story is a good reminder to listen to your body, and it highlights the importance of CPR and bystander action.

When Leah went into sudden cardiac arrest, she was out to eat with her new husband, Ben, who is also a nurse. Luckily, he quickly recognized what was happening. He and two other nurses who happened to be dining at the same restaurant quickly administered CPR, saving her life and preventing long-term organ failure.

“I have no doubt that Ben’s quick thinking saved her life by giving her CPR right away. Also crucial was the quick arrival time of EMS who was able to help resuscitate her and bring her to the Emergency Department,” said Dr. Adam Heringhaus, Emergency Medicine Physician at Mount Carmel East.

As the EMS team transferred Leah to a trauma bay at Mount Carmel East, they warned her coworkers that the patient was one of their own ED nurses and colleague to them for more than four years, working together to care for patients in similar situations to the one Leah was now facing.

Remarkably, Leah survived and has worked to slowly build back her strength while a cardiologist helps to manage her heart failure and cardiomyopathy. Her doctors told her the weakening of her heart had been caused by the chemotherapy she had received a few years earlier.

In the weeks leading up to the sudden cardiac arrest, Leah noticed a spike in heart rate alerts on her apple watch and felt more tired and out of breath than usual, but she didn’t realize the seriousness of those signs until after her heart stopped working that day.

After experiencing both sides of the emergency department, Leah advises, “Listen to your body and ask for professional medical advice when needed.” Her most helpful advice for those recently suffering from a similar diagnosis is, “stay positive and take baby steps to return to your normal routine.”

Leah’s emergency department coworkers supported her throughout her journey and joined her in the annual Central Ohio Heart Walk. Leah no longer works in the high-stress environment of a Emergency Department to take care of herself, but she’ll always have a special bond with her coworkers who became her caregivers.

“Take a CPR class if you can,” said Dr. Heringhaus. “That quick action saved Leah’s life.”

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