An ordinary day at the ballpark turned into a harrowing fight for survival for one Chicago Cubs fan last summer, and this week he reunited with the man who saved his life on that fateful day.
During the Cubs’ Aug. 5 game against the Oakland A’s, John Ginino was sitting in the stands at the Friendly Confines when he suddenly collapsed.
“I don’t remember anything. I had no chest pains. I had nothing out of the ordinary,” he said. “It was just a normal day.”
Just a few rows away, Burbank firefighter Leo Andrade was also taking in the game, and he heard the cries for help after Ginino collapsed.
“I saw a gentleman screaming that they needed a doctor,” he said. “I said you know what? Nobody has died in my hands and you are not going to be the first one.”
For seven agonizing minutes, Ginino’s heart stopped beating. Andrade says that he had no pulse, and was not breathing. Andrade began to perform CPR on Ginino, and ultimately paramedics were able to rush him to an area hospital.
Dr. Peter Brady, a cardiologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, said that Ginino was “essentially” dead during those seven minutes.
“Less than four percent of people who have an out-of-hospital arrest like John make it to the hospital alive,” he said.
Ginino woke up in the hospital five days later, not knowing where he was or what had happened to him.
“The next thing I know, it was Saturday, and I woke up here at Illinois Masonic,” he said.
Dr. Brady says that the only reason Ginino survived the ordeal was because of Andrade’s quick actions on that day.
“With a cardiac arrest, you really don’t have output of blood from your heart,” he said. “What CPR does, by compressing the chest, it forces blood out of the heart and into other organs of the body.”
After the harrowing ordeal that the two men shared, they have become best friends, spending Thanksgiving together and, of course, going back to Wrigley Field to cheer on the Cubs.
“You don’t know who’s next to you,” Andrade said. “It can be African-American, Hispanic, white, it doesn’t matter. You don’t know if he’s gonna have to save your life that instant.”
Ginino now has a defibrillator device implanted in his heart, and his reunion with Andrade this week is dedicated to one thing: encouraging others to learn CPR, the technique that saved his life in the stands of Wrigley Field.
“It’s still surreal to be honest,” Ginino said. “I mean, I thank the Lord for him. He’s like my hero now, and if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be having this interview.”