Carolinas HealthCare System

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Fast-acting Nurse, Staff at CMC Save Life of Young Athlete

Kelly Thomas and Omar CarterAdvanced healthcare is more than just a tagline. When put into practice, it saves lives. That’s what happened last month when a basketball player collapsed while playing a game in Charlotte.

Omar Carter, a 25-year-old former star basketball player for Appalachian State, was participating in a local pick-up game with friends. He had just finished a fast break when all a sudden he collapsed to the floor.

It was sheer luck that Kelly Thomas was watching the game from the stands. Thomas, who received her nursing education at Carolinas College of Health Sciences and is currently a cardiac intensive care unit nurse at Carolinas Medical Center, ran to his aid. She initially performed CPR, and then used an automatic external defibrillator on Carter. After a minute or so she was able to get a pulse again.

When the medics arrived, she called ahead to the emergency room at CMC to alert them that a “Code Cool” patient was on the way.

“Code Cool” is a process where a cardiac patient’s body temperature is dropped several degrees to help prevent brain damage. In Omar’s case, it was uncertain if the “Code Cool” would pay off.

From the Charlotte Observer:

After 24 hours of “Code Cool” treatment, the patient is slowly awakened over a 12-hour period. Then comes the great mystery. Even the doctors and nurses don’t know if the patient will awaken with brain damage or even awake at all. Or they can be fine.

To everyone’s relief, Carter was fine. “You could tell quickly that Omar was still in there,” Dr. Heffner said.

Carolinas Medical Center performs more “code cool” procedures than any hospital in the region. Their experience, plus Thomas’s assertive, yet collected, confidence allowed Omar to have a second chance.

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