Something unusual happened to Karren Griffith while she was Christmas shopping with her children and grandchildren 14 months ago. Right before their very eyes, the family watched as their mother and grandmother collapsed in Belks at the mall in Ashland, Ky. That alone is scary enough for any family, but this picture was about to get even worse.
As Griffith’s family called 911, Cindy Phillips, a cardiac rehab nurse at Southern Ohio Medical Center, happened to be shopping in Belk’s at that exact time.
“I don’t actually have much first-hand knowledge [about what happened] because I was ‘out’ for all the excitement,” Griffith recalls. “I was walking through Belks trying to finish up my Christmas shopping, when I suddenly felt very dizzy. After that, I have only a few brief, isolated memories of the next several days. But here is what I have pieced together from those memories and what others have told me.
“First, let me say that the event of December 13, 2016, are clearly what I like to call ‘God-incidences.’ There were so many specifics that could have produced a very different outcome for me. I was in a public place rather than at home with my husband (Sam), busy in his basement workshop.”
Phillips was also shopping at Belks that evening when she came upon the medical emergency and administered CPR for about 25 minutes. Belks has an automated external defibrillator (AED), and Phillips administered that as well. When the EMTs arrived, they also tried to revive Griffith from ventricular fibrillation, or v-fib (a cardiac rhythm Griffith says is “not compatible with life”).
“When they were taking me to the ambulance for transport to KDMC, one of the EMTs expressed sympathy to my daughter and said, ‘She is gone.’ But God wasn’t finished yet. The EMTs told me later that when he stuck me to start an IV, I flinched and the cardiac monitor bleeped,” Griffith says.
“Moments later I awoke and asked where I was. He told me I was en route to the hospital. He told me that I said, ‘I don’t want to go to the hospital. I need to finish my Christmas shopping!’ No kidding! He said he had never had a patient say that before, and we had a good laugh about it! I am told, although I don’t remember it, that when we arrived at the hospital, I was coherent and able to give information to hospital staff.”
Griffith says the next day she was transported to OSU Ross Heart Hospital. Staff there told her that what happened to her was quite unusual, and it was even more rare for someone to survive such an incident. “I guess God is still working on me to make me what I ought to be. I am so very grateful for Cindy Phillips, for SOMC Cardiac Rehab department, for doctors who have provided excellent care, for my wonderfully supportive husband and family, but most of all to a loving God, who said, ‘Not yet, Karren’.”
Kristi Cordle, Griffith’s oldest daughter, adds, “We had a wonderful unplanned reunion with Cindy Phillips later while we were all eating at the Pastor’s Pantry, and lots of tears were shed, and her family and our family were able to meet. It was so nice to be able to not only tell her thank you, but for her to see us with our mom having one of the moments we could have missed if God hadn’t used her and her nursing skills in such a powerful way.”
Griffith’s family — four children and 10 grandchildren — share a bond that holds them all tightly together. They realize their family has been given a second chance, a new lease on life.
Griffith praises the doctors at SOMC, KDMC and OSU Ross Heart Hospital. She is a survivor that even modern medicine cannot truly understand why she is still here. But Griffith, her family and all the many, many friends that prayed for her know it is God’s miracle.
Griffith’s family, have a bond that holds them all tightly together. They have been through something that most families never have to go through, and yet, by God’s grace, they are still together and thankful that they all can be.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928
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