Three doctors popped into a New York City restaurant after work one day and wound up saving the life of one very lucky jazz singer.
Henry Ray Fischbach, who goes by the stage name Henry Ray, was performing in the restaurant’s lounge that evening when he began to feel ill.
“I was feeling fine until that last number and as I was performing that song, I started to feel very light-headed and weak,” he said. “I thought I was just very dehydrated.”
In actuality, the 66-year-old musician had gone into cardiac arrest. When his heart stopped beating, Henry fell to the floor and lay motionless as the crowd erupted into calls for help. Someone in the audience noticed the doctors because one was still wearing his work scrubs. They frantically banged on the glass dividers to get their attention.
Dr. Matthew Simhon and Dr. Andrew Luzzi are both orthopedic surgery residents at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. They were having an after-work drink with colleague Dr. Marc Dyrszka, a spine surgeon affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine. As soon as the three of them saw Henry on the floor, they sprang into action.
“We could see he was on the floor and on his side,” Matthew said. “His skin was very blue. We didn’t feel any pulse. He wasn’t breathing whatsoever.”
They immediately began chest compressions to keep Henry’s heart pumping. They managed to keep him alive for 10 minutes until the paramedics arrived. Using a defibrillator, the paramedics got Henry’s heart beating again.
It wasn’t until he was in the ambulance on his way to NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center that Henry learned how close he’d come to passing away.
“You just died twice,” the paramedics told him. They filled him in on the three doctors who had rushed to save him, and Henry was filled with gratitude.
At the hospital, he had an operation to place a stent in his left coronary artery and then went home to recover. A month later, Henry finally got the chance to thank his heroes when he made his return to the stage. The restaurant owner arranged for all three physicians to come to the show, and Henry was overjoyed to be able to thank them all in person.
“I got the chance to express the inexpressible, the gratitude for saving my life,” he said. “I dedicated that evening to the three of them and the gift of life and the gift of being able to celebrate music that evening.”
The doctors were humble about their efforts, saying they’re just grateful they were there when Henry needed them. They hope their story will encourage more people to learn CPR in case they’re ever called on to be the hero in someone’s life!
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