Heart Attack Survivor Meets Mystery Hero Who Saved His Life

A Canadian man who survived a heart attack on the streets of New York City after a passerby revived him with CPR last fall got another special gift this week: the chance to publicly thank the good Samaritan who saved him.

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“It was wonderful,” Jason Kroft, the 41-year-old survivor told Yahoo! Shine in a phone interview. He added that the reunion was intense, and that, "I'm kind of quiet when I'm around him, and don't really know what to say."

Though he first met and thanked New Yorker John Carey two weeks ago, he got to acknowledge Carey's good deed at an official ceremony, the 19th Annual Second Chance Brunch, on Wednesday. Hosted by the New York City Fire Department as part of National EMS Week, the event brings cardiac arrest survivors—12 this year—together with the paramedics, EMTs, FDNY members and others who saved their lives.

More from Yahoo!: Coordinated Care Boosts Cardiac Arrest Survival: Study

Carey, a director of information technology operations for Fox News, according to the New York Daily News, has shied away from media attention and did not respond to a request for an interview with Yahoo! Shine. But he was bold when it mattered most, rushing to Kroft’s side in October after the tourist, who was with his wife and two daughters, fell to the ground and stopped breathing. Carey quickly placed his briefcase under Kroft’s head, tore open his shirt and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until paramedics arrived.

Kroft’s brother-in-law Adam Zeller, a New Yorker who had been giving them a tour of midtown at the time, later expressed his gratefulness to the stranger, who slipped off into the crowd amidst the chaos of the scene.

"If he hadn't done CPR compression between cardiac arrest and the time the ambulance arrived, Jason would have severe brain damage,” Zeller told Yahoo! Shine shortly after the incident. An FDNY press release for the Second Chance Brunch stated that, according to research, immediate CPR coupled with defibrillation can greatly increase a victim’s chance of survival after cardiac arrest.

Kroft, who had two ribs broken during chest compressions and who had no history of heart disease, was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he remained for two weeks before being transferred to a Toronto hospital for another five days. During that time, in an attempt to search for and thank the good Samaritan, Zeller and his husband, Kroft's brother Ryan, put up about 20 signs near the area of Kroft’s heart attack, hoping someone would step forward. It worked, and Carey soon heeded the call. When Kroft made it back to New York this month, meeting and thanking him was at the top of his agenda.

“I was very fortunate to have been on a busy street in a city with great medical care,” noted Kroft, who has been back at work as a corporate lawyer since January. “If I had been somewhere else, like at home alone in my basement, who knows what would have happened?”

Of the scary incident, he told Shine, “I don’t have any memories of any of it, but now, when I think of it, it’s pretty surreal. I cannot believe I got immediate care, and I feel very, very fortunate.”

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