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Mpls Man Gets Life-Saving CPR After Heart Attack While Running

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis man who nearly died got to thank the people who saved his life Thursday morning.

John Palba Jr., 43, collapsed and stopped breathing while running recently not far from his home. He had a heart attack, which seems unlikely considering the healthy lifestyle he leads.

John is an extremely fit guy who works out six days a week, an hour at a time and eats healthy. He may not have made it if a doctor from Hennepin County Medical Center who was running late to a friend’s birthday party had not the commotion and pulled over.

“Obviously I had an angel that came along or behind me,” Palba Jr. said.

The angel John is talking about is emergency room physician, Dr.  Johanna Moore.

It was two weeks ago when John went for a run on his usual route. As he made his way over the Broadway Avenue Bridge in northeast Minneapolis, he collapsed. Dr. Moore happened to be driving over the bridge seconds later.

“I saw five people looking utterly panicked.  I asked if they called 911 they said yes they’re coming.  Then I saw the patient, John, lying on his left side. He was not moving, not breathing, he appeared blue,” Moore said.

Dr. Moore did CPR and John started breathing. Paramedics arrived, took over and rushed him to the hospital.

“The whole team saved his life,” said Dr. Moore.

John now vows he will relearn CPR and hopes others will too. He also said he will never run without an ID again. It took doctors more than a day to identify him.

John says the system worked like it was supposed to, but Dr. Moore thinks there may have been more to it.

“Can’t help but wonder what set us up to be there at that time.  It’s pretty astounding,” said Moore.

“I do think it’s undeniable that I was in the right place at the right time,” said Palba Jr.

He gets tired easily, and it will be a while before he can get back to running again. He told WCCO-TV doctors aren’t sure yet why he had a heart attack, being that he is young and healthy.

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