It was a busy day at the convenience store where Kyung Lee works. As usual, familiar customers came in and out of the store, filling up their tanks and paying for their midday snacks. Little did Kyung know those same customers would help save his life.
“I don’t remember much once I fell,” said Kyung, 48. “One of my customers found me on the ground and began performing CPR while another called 911.” Paramedics rushed to the store, provided Kyung with an electric shock using a defibrillator and transported him to Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital.
When he arrived at the hospital, Kyung was in a coma and had suffered a massive heart attack. He was evaluated and stabilized by affiliated cardiologist Dr. Rohit Bhuriya, who was the cardiologist on call. “Mr. Lee was unresponsive and had a lot of damage to his heart,” said Dr. Cesar Nahas, Medical Director of the Cardiovascular Surgery Program at Memorial Hermann Southeast. “The CPR performed by bystanders who found Mr. Lee was critical.”
Undergoing Triple-Bypass Surgery
Dr. Nahas operated on Kyung, performing a triple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to Kyung’s heart. Kyung remained in a coma throughout the lifesaving surgery. “The brain is very susceptible. When his heart stopped, the brain was not getting oxygen and was injured,” said Dr. Nahas. “We have seen a rare patient recover from a coma like his, but those chances were dimming for Mr. Lee as time went by.”
Watching and Waiting
Kyung was in the Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann Southeast for 33 days. During that time, doctors made numerous attempts to wake him out of the coma, but were unsuccessful. “My wife never doubted that I would wake up one day,” said Kyung.
She was right. On day 34, Kyung awoke, leaving doctors, nurses and his family overwhelmed with joy.
Kyung improved quickly from that point and soon began walking the halls of Memorial Hermann Southeast with his therapists. He learned what had happened to him during the previous month through the stories shared by his wife, nurses and Dr. Nahas.
For nine days, Kyung completed rehabilitation, focusing on his both his left and right arms and shoulders at the rehabilitation unit at Memorial Hermann Southeast, part of the Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Network affiliated with TIRR Memorial Hermann.
“I’m thankful to be here and alive,” said Kyung. “My customers are even more special to me now because I know they helped save my life.”
The Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital Cardiovascular Surgery Program was launched in January 2018. The program brings a number of advanced cardiac treatment options, including Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) surgery and heart valve surgery, to Memorial Hermann Southeast. To learn more about the program visit: http://www.memorialhermann.org/locations/southeast/heart—vascular-services/.