DALLAS - Dwayne Pickens is alive and breathing, but Sunday morning he nearly died while running the Dallas Marathon.
"All the other runners were frantically screaming for help,” said Baylor Medical Center athletic trainer Jeremy Bolden.
Bystanders, including a Dallas Fire-Rescue paramedic, saw Pickens face down on the pavement.
“They were unable to find a pulse and claimed he had some breathing but no pulse,” said DFR spokesman Jason Evans. “They immediately began CPR.”
Doctors say Pickens had a heart attack. His heart stopped beating for about two minutes -- in other words, he basically died.
All he remembers was running and having trouble catching his breath.
"Next thing I remember I am in a room with a bunch of people around me,” said Pickens.
He woke up in the emergency room at Baylor.
Bolden and Lt. Martin Leos with Dallas Fire-Rescue were the first ones to get to Pickens.
"He started chess compressions and I started with airway control,” said Bolden.
They could not get his heart pumping again.
Dr. Alex Eastman, a trauma surgeon who is also a 14-year veteran reserve officer with Dallas police, arrived on the scene to help. Paramedics stationed two blocks away had a defibrillator. They used it to shock Pickens heart.
“In my 16 years as a doctor, I have never seen anyone come back like that," said Eastman, who works for UT Southwestern. “He was incredibly grateful and thankful to have a second chance at life."
Within minutes, Pickens was breathing again. He says he had no idea he had heart issues.
"I wasn't aware I had a condition. I have been running since last January and not having any issues until I got into the race,” he said.
On Monday, two of Pickens’ rescuers stopped by to see how he was doing. He choked back tears as he thanked them.
"Obviously, thank you for being there at that time and saving my life,” he said.
Pickens says he knows he got a second chance and says he plans on recovering and running in the Dallas Marathon next year. Next, he says, he’ll finish the race.
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