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"April 2 is my new birthday," jokes North Carolina State Representative Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg. What happened to Rep. Carney on April 2 was certainly life-changing. It was the day she suffered sudden cardiac arrest.
Rep. Carney claims that curiosity actually saved her life. "Instead of heading back to Charlotte after Session, I decided to stay for a meeting," says Rep. Carney. After the meeting, she returned to her office. Her memories about the rest of the day and most of the next end there.
Rep. Carney's assistant, Tazra Mitchell, found her completely slumped over her desk and ran into the hall for help. The fast action of some of Rep. Carney's coworkers and the use of an onsite defibrillator kept Rep. Carney alive until the paramedics arrived.
That's when her treatment for heart disease began, and it continues today. The paramedics worked on Rep. Carney the entire way to WakeMed, where she then received immediate, life-saving care and testing. Once Rep. Carney was stabilized, the cardiologist, Dr. Mathew Hook, took the time to talk to her family members and friends about her condition.
Next to Rep. Carney's bedside was Dr. Randy Cooper, an electrophysiologist with WakeMed. He told her she needed an automated implantable cardioverter defibrillator (AICD).
The AICD procedure was a success, and one week after her sudden cardiac arrest, Rep. Carney was released from WakeMed. But the care didn't stop there. Rep. Carney entered a phase of intense cardiac education and rehabilitation, and today, with the support and love of her "lifesaver angels" - Rep. Carney's friends, family, coworkers and the entire WakeMed Heart Center team - she continues her progress.
With the events of her "new birthday" in mind, Rep. Carney has a new outlook. "I really know what's important," she says. "Returning to work was something I needed and wanted to do. I feel it's important for people to know that sudden cardiac arrest and other life-threatening health issues can happen to anyone, but my presence demonstrates that you can also survive and thrive."
Rep. Carney is proud to live in a state where excellent cardiac care is available. She is also an advocate for the power of the right attitude. "Don't spend your time looking back at what could have been," she says. "Live each day to its fullest, and look forward to the days ahead.
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