God uses the darkest moments to show us He will never leave us.
Today, I'm sharing a very emotional and personal story because it could save your life or a family member's life. I will never forget the phone call I received on December 4th, 2022. I heard these words," Your brother had a heart attack, and it doesn’t look good!" There was so much unknown and confusion. My first thought was, how? Tommy is extremely fit! My family was in utter shock.
At 42 years old Tommy Dolan suffered a heart attack and died. This is the story of how he went from death to life. If you are going through a health crisis or if someone you love is, and you need faith that God can do the impossible, Tommy and Danielle Dolan will build your faith to a new level. God has a word for you in this message that could transform your life and maybe even save it.
Tommy and his wife Danielle open up about what happened on December, 4th, 2022, what saved his life, what we need to do to save a life, and what God has done through this.
I want to point out that this shocked everyone because Tommy was extremely fit. He was meticulous about food and worked out every day. In fact, the day this happened, he was walking on his hands, sprinting, and coaching Rugby.
"When Tommy went into cardiac arrest due to a massive heart attack, the symptoms were NOT what you usually see in the movies. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t grab his chest. It was sudden and unexpected. Had I not been beside him, no one would’ve ever known it was happening.
It’s been so hard for me to post in detail about this day because “writing” about what happened is so much harder than talking about it. It feels more real and fresh in my mind, But if posting about it saves one life, I want to do it!
The day started like a typical Sunday. We went to church, came home, had lunch, and Tommy put together a grocery shopping list while Harlowe and I put up Christmas decorations outside. Our son, Brave, was playing a video game with a buddy. It was a sunny, warmer December day. Tommy left for a game of two-hand touch rugby with other dads and their kids. Brave stayed home with me because he had an injury. All went well at rugby, and he drove straight home for us to take a call at 3 pm with buyer clients. It was about 3:20 pm when it all changed.
We were sitting beside each other, and I was looking right at him when it happened. Tommy and I were on speaker phone with our buyers going over their agreement. They asked a question, he spoke, and then I spoke. All was normal.
While speaking, Tommy turned back, looked at me like he was listening to me, looked back at the phone, and put his head down on his desk. It was in a controlled manner, but then he started SNORING. Not a loud snore but a groggily, rolling, quiet snore. At first, I thought he was joking. But this was so out of character, so it made no sense. I quickly observed his body was completely limp but, thankfully, being held up by his desk and chair. Then his head started to move slightly erratically, and I picked him up from behind to notice his jaw was fully locked. When I picked him up, he was moaning and then making a “grasping for air” type sound, and I thought he was choking on his tongue. He was fully incoherent and lifeless other than these noises. I tried prying his jaw open, but it was impossible. While holding him up, I yelled for Brave and told him to call 911 and told him Dad was having a seizure. Brave sprinted out of his room and called 911. By the time Brave was on the line with them, I realized he was not having a seizure but a heart attack. He was turning blue, and it was apparent he was not getting any oxygen, and his heart was not beating. I picked him up off his chair, pulled him to the ground, and immediately started CPR – specifically chest compressions. All of this probably happened within 10 seconds from when he put his head down on his desk, but it felt so surreal and so much longer. Looking back, time was a blur for Brave and me. Brave called 911 and relayed everything I was communicating to him. He gave them our address and was right by me and Tommy.
While applying chest compressions, Tommy was not awake. He had no pulse. When I’d stop chest compressions, his skin coloring would go from red to purple-ish-blue. When I started them up again, his color would come back red, and I could tell some blood was pumping. While doing the chest compressions, even though he wasn’t “alive,” his brain was.
Watch the Live Taping of this Episode Below
He would still spontaneously snore, moan, or groan. And it appeared like he was breathing. But, the minute I stopped the chest compressions, all noises would stop, and he was without life. In researching this, I came across this very helpful article that I want everyone to read. It explains why Tommy’s body was doing this and how it’s actually a cry for help from the brain to start CPR. It explains how most bystanders assume the person is either having a seizure or choking and are afraid to perform CPR and wait for EMTs, which is too late.
I promise you it was a Holy Spirit moment that led me to start chest compressions. I am not CPR certified. I wish I was, and I am going to get it soon. I’d only read a few years ago that the most important part of CPR is chest compressions. So that’s what I focused on.
I told Brave to go and get help from neighbors. He ran to one of our neighbor’s homes and quickly got help. Tiffany came running in and eventually took over for me. I’m so incredibly thankful she was right there and able to take action. She was strong and composed. Brave was eventually able to wave down Tiffany’s husband, John, as he was coming home. John then ran inside and took over for Tiffany. Between the three of us, we each did about 2 min of compressions before EMTs, firefighters, and police arrived. John and Tiffany are true heroes to our family and are a huge part of why we are still all together today! ❤️
Also, Brave was coming back and forth in and out of the house to help do whatever I needed of him and check for help. Brave was my right-hand man and is a hero to his dad and me. I couldn’t imagine trying to juggle all of that alone. God knew I’d need him and knew he’d be strong, take action to help me! Our daughter, Harlowe, was out playing in the neighborhood, so she was thankfully spared from Tommy in his state. She is impacted by it all, but I’m thankful she didn’t have to witness what Brave did.
During the compressions, our 911 operator was so amazing in counting out the timing of the compressions with me. She counted to 5 and asked that I yell out with her to stay on beat. And we just kept counting to five over and over again together. In the beginning, from my adrenaline (and lack of training), I was definitely going too quickly. In the chaos and panic, she was my calm in the storm and helped guide us tremendously.
Between 7 EMTs & firefighters they did 2 rounds of CPR each. Tommy had 20 mins of compressions and 4 defibrillations and was drilled an IV in his femur bone to be administered epinephrine and heart medication through his bone marrow. This medication is what ultimately brought his heart back to beating on its own. He was then taken to UC Health in Highlands Ranch (an AMAZING hospital!), where they did emergency surgery. They put 2 stents in his LAD artery and then had him in a medically induced coma to focus on his brain.
Due to being without proper oxygen for 20 mins, their primary concern after his heart surgery was his brain. So they also chilled his body for over 24 hours and allowed it to heal. It didn’t occur to me until that moment that from all of this, he could have no neurological function, so the next 72 hours were critical, which is where the prayers across the country and friends/family across the world came in heavily & with immense gratitude!
One night, the doctors told us in ICU that in the absolute best-case scenario, Tommy would be out of the hospital in 10 days. We prepared for a long road. But Tommy came out of the coma mentally all there.
When people prayed for Tommy, they could see a glowing yellow light all around him, which makes this photo a physical manifestation of God's goodness!🌟
Tommy took his first step on day 3, and on day 4, it wasn't just any step, it was a flight of stairs!
By the mercy and grace of God, the Holy Spirit's conviction to perform CPR, our son Brave, our neighbors, the 911 Operator, and the First Responders, Tommy was out of the hospital in 5 days!! A true miracle of God and a testament to Tommy and his health going into this!
The road to recovery has not been easy - mentally or physically. The first two months have really been about healing from the side effects of cardiac arrest - broken ribs, swollen knee from the drilled IV, injured nose from the breathing tubes and rhino rockets, and healing of his brain being without proper oxygen for 20 mins and healing of his body & organs from the heart attack.
Now Tommy is in cardiac rehab and crushing it (of course) but is focused on getting back to full recovery. We are blessed and so fortunate to be where we are today, and knowing he will recover fully.
Tommy’s heart attack was not due to a clogged artery that had been built up with plaque. He had an acute plague rupture which was very new to us. We both assumed heart attacks stemmed from a clogged artery that had built up over time. We’d heard of 95% or 99% blockage but never an acute plaque rupture with a clot that can instantly cause 100% blockage. The cardiologist told us a piece of plaque chipped off in his lower anterior descending artery (the largest artery in the body) and created a 100% blockage instantly. This is why there were zero symptoms leading up to it. Behind the chipped plaque, a blood clot formed as well. Tommy had as little as 10%-20% soft plaque in his artery, and it was simply due to the chipped plaque. He compared it to a scab coming off, creating a flap and blood following it. His cardiologist said Tommy could have taken all the tests the day before and passed them with no issues. But, because Tommy had amazing health going into this, and we were able to respond immediately, he was able to survive. Only 6% survive this kind of heart attack with cardiac arrest outside of the hospital. Tommy has always been incredibly healthy because he knows heart disease is in his family history. He eats very well, works out like a machine (if you know, you know 😉), and he was having his heart checked regularly. Yes, it still happened, but multiple doctors have told us if it wasn’t for his health, he wouldn’t be here today (thank you, babe, for always working hard!)
Looking back, cardiac arrest is unlike anything I’d ever experienced or could have prepared for. But had I known what to expect even the slightest, I think I would have acted even quicker and felt slightly more confident in what was going on for Tommy, Brave, and me. If you’re ever in this situation with a loved one or stranger, chest compressions are all you need to do to save a life. Don’t worry about breaking ribs. You’re doing it right if you are.
**Nothing political, but we have been asked if Tommy has had the vaccine. He has not. Just in case anyone is curious.
We recognize that this was purely genetic for Tommy based on his health and family history. The only thing different Tommy could have been doing was taking heart-specific medicine. But we highly recommend we all have our hearts checked, regardless of age." (Thank you, Danielle, for allowing me to share your original post.)
"God can use your pain for good and to help others," and he shared this scripture and his favorite quote.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Albert Einstein
Tommy and Danielle have made it their mission to get people certified in CPR, tap the image below to watch a video of one of their events.
Did you know that each year, 350,000 Americans experience cardiac arrest when the heart suddenly stops beating, and only around 10% survive? Although 7 out of 10 of these events happen at home, there has not been a focus on preparing for this home emergency.
What can we do to prevent heart attacks?
It was overwhelmingly awesome to meet the men who arrived on the scene and took action to bring Tommy’s heart back to beating and get him to the hospital. We had a representative from 911 dispatch present as well.
We pray for anyone reading this who has health issues or who has a family history of diseases to come out of agreement with the enemy about their future. Turn their fears into faith.
Father, we have faith in You, and we hold tightly to Your Word that says Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.
Help us not be angry or feel like, why me? Help us trust You and remember You are a rewarder of those who diligently seek You.
We are seeking You. We believe that You have a plan and a purpose in the storm, and Your Word, that says You work all things for our good. Uphold us with Your righteous right hand in the unknown. Let us hide in the Shadow of Your Wings.
Lord, I pray for healing, for renewed hope, for generational diseases to be broken, and for us to have complete peace in this moment that You are our healer and we can trust You.
Thank you for sparing Tommy’s life. Thank you for Danielle, their son Brave, their neighbors, and the first responders who took action to save his life.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
I would have lost heart unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
– Psalm 27:13-14
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
– John 10:10
I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. – Isaiah 46:4
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
– Isaiah 43:2-3
I want to thank Tommy and Danielle for their boldness to share their story of pain for God's glory. They did so in hopes of saving a life, getting people certified in CPR, and inspiring you to take the best care of yourself.
Please share this with your friends and family.
Remember, You are Strong. Confident. His.
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