Allan Larkin is grateful that two Lahey nurses were working out in the same gym when he suffered a major heart attack.
It may sound odd to say that the best day to have a heart attack is a holiday, but in Allan Larkin’s case, it’s true. On February 21, 2011 – President’s Day – Allan was doing his usual workout at a gym in Stoneham, when he decided to try something different. “I was feeling great,” Allan said, “So I played some basketball, which I hadn’t played in years.”
After finishing the ball game, Allan felt a pain in his chest. He went to the men’s locker room and looked in the mirror. “My face was bright red,” he recalls, “Like a lobster. I splashed some water on it and that’s the last thing I remember before I was in an ambulance on my way to the hospital.”
Sisters Ashley and Samantha Gallo, two nurses from Lahey Clinic, were at the same gym as Allan that day. Samantha was working out with her headphones on when someone came running out of the locker room calling for help. Without hesitation, she ran into the men’s room, closely followed by her sister Ashley. They discovered Allan on the floor with no pulse or heartbeat. Working with a nurse from another hospital who also happened to be at the gym that day, the sisters performed CPR and eventually restarted Allan’s heart with the gym’s defibrillator.
When the EMTs arrived, Ashley convinced them to take Allan to Lahey instead of another local hospital. “It was clear that he was having a major heart attack,” Ashley said. “The other hospital has no catheter lab. So I had to keep insisting that they take him to Lahey, which they finally did.”
Allan later learned that the only reason the three nurses were at that the gym that day was because they had the holiday off from work. “It’s unbelievable,” Allan adds. “I was clinically dead when they first got to me. And they brought me back…They didn’t just save my life, but my whole family, my wife, my grandkids; I would have missed all that, you know? I know it’s their job, but it’s still unbelievable what they did for me. I can never repay them. I can just thank them.”