Kalie and Cora Sagan were enjoying a last weekend at home in Deerfield, before heading back to college at the University of Minnesota, when the family movie night there were having with their parents took a dramatic turn.
“I walked downstairs and said, ‘You better call somebody. I don't feel good’ and that’s all I remember,” said Mark Sagan, 55, the girls’ father.
“Next thing you know, he literally just like fell down on the floor and, to me, he was purple right away,” said Jackie Sagan, the girls’ mother.
Kalie Sagan, 21, called 911, while Cora Sagan, 20, noticed her dad wasn’t breathing.
“In my head I'm like, 'Oh CPR that's what you do when someone's not breathing.' So I remembered it from, I think it was my sophomore year of high school, we learned it in gym class,” Cora Sagan said.
Cora Sagan began performing chest compressions on her father.
“I don't know how she did it but she was shouting out loud 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4,” Jackie Sagan said, recalling the frantic scene.
“The lady on the phone was counting with me, which was helpful but I remember it was like two beats a second, so fast and hard. That’s all I was thinking,” Cora Sagan said.
Paramedics arrived minutes later and Mark Sagan was rushed to NorthShore Highland Park Hospital and the care of cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Rosenberg.
“Cora and Kaylee were able to get started with CPR and called 911. And that's really what saved his life,” Rosenberg said.
Mark Sagan had what’s called a ”widowmaker” heart attack, a complete blockage of a key artery.
“That's the artery that goes down in front of the heart and supplies most of the heart muscle. And so, if a patient has a heart attack in that location, it frequently can be fatal,” Rosenberg said.
“It was really scary, thinking you’re going to lose someone and we had no idea. You don’t expect these things to happen,” Kalie Sagan said.
Rosenberg said the daughters calling 911 and doing chest compressions made all the difference.
“The chest compressions are the number one most important thing. That's what people should focus on when they're giving CPR,” Rosenberg said.
After surgery to put in a stent, Mark Sagan is expected to make a full recovery. Beyond proud of their daughters, the Sagans have one request.
“Please continue to teach CPR in high school or middle school or whatever it takes. Please encourage your children to learn CPR, whatever the age,” Jackie Sagan said.