'Making a difference': Quick action saves man's life

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by Barry Davis / KENS 5

Bio | Email | Follow: @barrydavistv

kens5.com

Posted on May 7, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Updated Monday, May 7 at 6:52 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- When Rita Berry kissed her husband, John, goodbye as he left for work on April 24, it never crossed her mind that it could've been the last time.

Thanks to the rapid response of a well trained, good Samaritan, it wasn't.

Rita and John are more than husband and wife of 18 years, they are best friends who frequently motorcycle and travel the country together.

Hours after leaving the house, the 47-year-old John was finishing some maintenance work, going through the normal routine. He took off his tool belt, threw it in the van, and slammed the door.

That's when John suddenly dropped to one knee from a heart attack.

Rita rushed to Baptist Downtown Hospital after receiving a frantic call from one of John's coworkers.

Doctors updated Rita on John's condition and it wasn't optimistic.

"He said it four times. This is very bad Mrs. Berry! This is very bad," Rita said. "I guess he was trying to prepare me."

Rita sat helplessly in the waiting room, wondering what the ensuing hours had in store. Would her life be completely turned upside down?

The scene got interesting when Rita learned of a stranger that gave John CPR immediately upon seeing him collapse.

Rita said paramedics defibrilated John twice, which got his heart started again. But it was the stranger who saved his life.

"I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a gentleman laying on the ground by a utility truck," Dr. Abigail Barrera said, reflecting on the sequence of events that lead her to giving John CPR.

"He took his last few breaths as I ran up to him. And then I immediately began doing chest compressions and CPR," Dr. Barrera said.

Rita enlisted the help of Kens 5 because she wanted to track down the mystery hero.

"I need to find her," Rita said.

Based on the tip that Dr. Barrera was driving a White Lexus, we found her doctor's office was right around the corner from where John collapsed.

"When you can know that you've actually made a difference in one individual's life and in the life of their family..it kind of makes your entire journey through medicine know that it's been worthwhile," Dr. Barrera said, upon finding out about John's recovery.

By way of what Dr. Barrera calls divine intervention, they met at the hospital.

Today, John is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery as he participates in rehabilitation.

Rita says John's improves daily and she's optimistic he will return to her fully one day.

She wasn't always.

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