A Queens man has the luck of the Irish and two Northwell Health hospitals to thank for saving his life – twice. Allen Gogarty, an Irish folk rock musician, performed two songs today for doctors and nurses of Long Island Jewish Forest Hills (LIJ Forest Hills) and the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in the Manhasset hospital.
Mr. Gogarty’s health odyssey began on December 2, 2022, when he woke up in his Glendale home to severe back pain, nausea and sweating. His wife called 911, but by the time the ambulance came his symptoms had subsided.
“I started to think that maybe I overreacted,” said Mr. Gogarty.
Even though he felt better, EMTs convinced Mr. Gogarty to go to the hospital to be checked out. He was brought to LIJ Forest Hills where blood tests and a chest CAT scan were done.
“His bloodwork showed that he had an elevated level of troponin – a protein found in the cardiac muscles – in his bloodstream,” explained Alexander Lucks, DO, an emergency medicine physician at LIJ Forest Hills.
When the heart is damaged, it releases troponin into the blood which is indicative of a heart attack or other heart-related condition.
Mr. Gogarty was transported to the hospital’s telemetry unit where his heart was monitored overnight. The following morning Mr. Gogarty went from being OK to having a severe heart attack.
Within seconds a team of doctors and nurses began performing CPR on Mr. Gogarty. A breathing tube was inserted into his mouth, his heart was shocked three times with defibrillations and multiple types of life support medications were administered to try and restore his heart beat to normal rhythm.
For 23 minutes Mr. Gogarty was without a pulse.
“He was dead,” said Syed Iqbal, DO, director of critical care at LIJ Forest Hills. “It’s extremely rare when a patient codes for that long and then is able to survive. Mr. Gogarty was very lucky.”
Once stabilized, Mr. Gogarty was transported to the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at NSUH where he was taken directly to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab.
Mr. Gogarty’s blood pressure was virtually nonexistent and he was in dire shape. Doctors implanted a small temporary heart pump – known as an Impella device – to keep his heart beating as they stented two of his coronary arteries that were 100 percent and 90 percent blocked.
“Mr. Gogarty was probably one of the sickest patients I’ve ever saved,” said Gaurav Rao, MD, an interventional cardiologist at NSUH.
Listening to the doctors recount his health journey at a reunion on Wednesday, Mr. Gogarty was awe struck by the life-saving care he received at both hospitals. The father of two teenage sons is now on the road back to recovery and is starting to get back into playing gigs around the tri-state area.
“The gift of life has been handed back to me,” he said. “It’s something that we take for granted that I won’t ever take for granted again.”