MARIETTA, GA (WXIA/NBC) - A Georgia man having a heart attack in his home flat-lined on the way to the hospital, only to recover 15 minutes later after his wife begged him not to leave her.
Acworth, GA, resident Alan Durham was whisked away to the hospital in an ambulance, but stopped breathing on the way there.
"It was very frustrating because he wasn't responding to all of our medicines, all of our standard protocols, but we didn't want to give up because we knew this guy had been up walking and talking 15 minutes earlier," said Dr. Michael Nitzken.
Fifteen minutes after Durham stopped breathing, Nitzken called his wife, Angie, into his room. The couple have been married since 1976 and have three children and four grandchildren.
"I was concerned we were going to lose him," Nitzken said. "I wanted her to be there so if she had to say goodbye, she could see all the effort going on to try to resuscitate him."
Angie Durham said she was surprised they allowed her to enter the trauma room, filled with more than a dozen people trying to save her husband. She said she thought her husband was gone.
"I could see he didn't have any heartbeat. He wasn't breathing, it wasn't him," she said.
Nitzken said Angie Durham asked him if her husband could still hear her.
"I believe yes, because I believe the last thing to ever go is hearing. And I said, 'Yeah, he can hear you,'" Nitzken said.
"That's when I told him 'I love you, you can't leave me, I couldn't live without you,' and I walked out," Angie Durham said.
As soon as she left the room something changed.
"With that, the monitor was 'beep, beep.' It clicked back and got his rhythm back," Nitzken said.
Outside the room, Angie Durham was devastated and waiting when a doctor showed up and told her Alan Durham was alive again.
Six days later, after an induced coma and a stint in his heart, her husband of 35 years awoke.
"I think it was a miracle," Angie Durham said.
He says it's the grace of God.
"I don't know why he decided to let me come back, but he did, and that's a good thing," he said. "Now, I get to see my grand kids grow up and I get to grow old. I'm looking forward to that."
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