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Man Meets Nurse Who Saved His Life After Heart Attack

OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) -- An Oak Lawn man who survived a massive heart attack has finally met the nurse who performed life-saving CPR while on her lunch hour last fall.

WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports Gerald "Jack" Boekeloo and Dawn Bausone-Gazda met today at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Last November, Boekeloo knew he was in trouble and tried to drive to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. He couldn't make it, so he pulled into the parking lot of a White Castle at 95th Street and Cicero Avenue.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports Bausone-Gazda, a nurse at Christ who was driving by the White Castle at the time, saw the commotion in the parking lot, so she pulled over to help. She realized Boekeloo was having a heart attack, and was able to perform CPR to revive him.

"He had no pulse, and he was in cardiac arrest, so I started doing CPR," she said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports


Doctors said Boekeloo, 69, was as good as dead after the heart attack, until Bausone-Gazda brought him back to life.

Thomas Levin, a cardiologist who treated Boekeloo after he was brought to the hospital, said, "Gerald came to the emergency department pretty much as good as dead. He had had a cardiac arrest in the field, [and] underwent heroic resuscitation."

Boekeloo's heart stopped a second time that day at the hospital, and was revived again, this time by doctors at Christ.

"Cats have nine lives. Well, I used two of them up already," Boekeloo said Tuesday after meeting Bausone-Gazda for the first time while conscious.

Boekeloo didn't know it was Bausone-Gazda who saved his life until he met her face-to-face at the hospital on Tuesday.

"I am so grateful you're doing well," Bausone-Gazda told Boekeloo. "And I hope God continues to bless you."

"You don't know how I feel," he said.

"This is the reason I became a nurse, and thank you for helping me remember that," Bausone-Gazda said.

She saw him in his hospital room not long after his heart attack.

"I didn't even know it was you, and there was just a connection when I walked in the room," she said.

While she was there, he told her his story, but she didn't reveal at the time that she was the one who had performed CPR to save his life.

"I wish you knew how I felt. Words cant' say it," he said. "You're a hero."

Boekeloo has had a mechanical heart pump installed, and is on the waiting list for a transplant.

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