1. O'Shaughnessy, Patrice

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Kathy Burke, PhD, RN, was walking with a friend in a park in January. They broke into a run for the last quarter-mile and Burke, director of the Center for Professional Development at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, was annoyed with herself for not being able to keep up.

FIGURE. Kathy Burke ... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. Kathy Burke (center) was resuscitated by Karen Rafferty (to her left), thanks to the help of Cindy Spittle (rear right), Micki Burns (rear left), and officers Brian Wilfong (far left) and Jeff Franck (far right).

Steps away, Karen Rafferty, MSN, RN, an ICU nurse at a local hospital, was coaxing her three young sons out of the car for some fresh air on the cold, windy day.


Before this day, Burke and Rafferty had never met, despite sharing a profession and mutual acquaintances in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.


Suddenly, Burke fell to the ground. Her friend screamed, then dialed 911 on her cell phone. Rafferty rushed to them.


"She was face down, not breathing, and had no pulse. I turned her over and started CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitations]," Rafferty recalls. Police officers soon arrived with an automated external defibrillator and shocked Burke once. Rafferty performed several more rounds of CPR, and Burke's heart restarted. She suffered no significant damage.


"A lot of people are calling me a hero," Rafferty says. "In my mind, anyone who came along would have done the best they could do."


This chance meeting of two nurses in a park not only created a friendship, the two walk together now on a regular basis, but also served as a reminder about health. Burke was 50 years old, healthy, with no obvious symptoms of heart disease. She had low cholesterol, normal blood pressure, and she exercised regularly.


Her husband, John, had died of gastric cancer a few months before, and shortly after that she began having what appeared to be indigestion. An electrocardiogram was within normal limits, and the chest pains that appeared erratically were attributed to a reflux condition. The pain would stop when she walked or ran-further convincing her that it wasn't cardiac-related.


But after collapsing and being revived on that day in January, she was taken to Mercy Suburban Hospital and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital where it was discovered that her left anterior descending artery was 95% occluded. She underwent angioplasty, and a stent was inserted. Burke was released from the hospital three days later, and was reunited with Rafferty a few days after that-the beginning of a new friendship for both.


As reported in the January 25 issue of the Ambler Gazette, perhaps Rafferty's four-year-old son Christopher best summed up the lifesaving defibrillation and subsequent rounds of CPR: "First you hit her, and then you kissed her."