Benefit being held for Utica woman who was brought back to life
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Gina Loomis George of Utica has had a rough nine months. Last June, she and her husband were in Syracuse at Upstate Medical Center for their youngest son's 4th jaw surgery, when Gina decided to take a quick run across the street to the Dunkin Donuts. That's when she collapsed from sudden cardiac arrest on the street. Her heart stopped, she fell on her face, causing blood around around her brain, and her brain was deprived of oxygen for 15 minutes. Gina's husband Jimmy says there were a set of circumstances that helped Gina somehow miraculously survive. First, he says the first person to come across Gina was a nurse who had missed the shuttle bus into work from her parking area, and decided to walk, and just happened to be at the right spot at the right time and immediately began CPR. Second, Jimmy says an ambulance just happened to be riding by at the very time the nurse came upon Gina, and were able to help immediately as well, and thirdly, a cardiologist inside the hospital who was off duty had just re-entered the Emergency Room because he had forgotten his pager. "If one of these people had not been there, it would have been a total different outcome," Jimmy said. Gina says while her brain had lost oxygen for 15 minutes, she was basically dead. "And when I was dead, I was someplace else," she said. "I don't know where I was, but it was peaceful." She called it her 'after death' experience. "I was at peace, I was at rest," she said. "I was told to fight. My son here had surgery, people needed me and I needed to fight, and I remember saying I'm just a little too tired to fight, and it was his (my husband's) grandfather actually, who I never met. He died just before I met my husband. And I could hear my brother. My brother died of sudden cardiac arrest as well, and he said your family needs you and I said, I am so tired. He said you need to fight Gina, you need to fight." Gina says when she realized she actually had this 'after death' experience, she thought of her infant daughter that died more than 20 years ago. "I thought, 'why didn't I see my daughter of all people,'" Gina said. "And my husband says 'if you did, you wouldn't have fought, you wouldn't have came back.'" Doctors put Gina into an induced coma to alleviate any strain on her heart and her brain. She was slowly pulled out of that coma after a week. Jimmy says doctors were not hopeful because of the length of time Gina's brain went without oxygen. "They told me there's no way she was going to make it," he said. "Make sure you get a hold of everyone you need to get a hold of." But Gina surprised everyone when she came out of the coma and knew everyone that was in her room. "It blew the doctors away because they said he has never had a patient that survived what she survived," she said. Gina's life now consists of taking more than 20 medications each day, all at particular times, and she says it's tough, but she's thankful she has the opportunity to 'live again'. She says, "Life is beautiful, and before this all happened, I had my share of trouble like everybody else, and it, you look back and it was nothing, wasted tears, wasted time." Since Gina came home from the hospital late last summer, she has continued to have more heart problems. On December 23rd, she didn't feel right and knew something was wrong so she went to the hospital. Doctors told her she had a 99 percent blockage and had open heart surgery. She now has a pacemaker and an internal defibrillator. Then just about a month ago, in February, she had two new stents put in, and finally just this week she had a mild heart attack and just got out of the hospital on Thursday. Despite her past nine months, Gina says she feels like she has guardian angels and takes each day as it comes and loves every minute of it. "Every day is a blessing and the nurses said to me 'honey,' I was in a lot of pain this visit to the hospital, and she said, 'I'm so sorry you're having a bad day' and I said, 'I'd rather have bad days than no days.'" Gina and Jimmy have gone through their entire life savings paying for medical bills and still owe hundreds of thousands of dollars. They say they are even having trouble paying for anything medical that they must pay for in cash, like blood work and medications. That is why friends and family are holding a benefit to help them out. It is set for Sunday from 2 to 6 pm at American Legion Post 229 on Herkimer Road in North Utica. There is a $20 donation requested that includes food and entertainment. There will also be a basket raffle and auction.