On Feb. 14, 2011, the lives of Jeff and Erica Buchanan changed forever.
Jeff’s heart stopped beating. He was dead, without a natural heartbeat for about 90 minutes. Friday morning, three years later, they went to the Edmond Fire Department’s Fire Station No. 1 to say thank you to Wes Skelly, Kyle Shelton, Chad George and Brian Olea, the personnel who saved Jeff’s life, and to share their story.
It happened at about 8:50 p.m. on a Monday, a traditional pizza day for the hectic Buchanan family schedule. Jeff came in while Erica was working and they began to talk about what their day was like. Jeff went to their bedroom with his laptop to finish some artwork.
That didn’t last long. Erica started hearing a lot of good natured rough housing with their kids coming from the bedroom. After tucking the kids into bed and cleaning up the kitchen, Erica sat down to watch one of her favorite shows.
Her time on the sofa was cut short when she heard one word she will never forget — “Babe!”
Immediately, she could tell something was wrong. She went into their bedroom where she saw her husband lying on his side and propped up on his arm. His lips were blue and he looked like he was convulsing.
“I was terrified when I grabbed the phone to dial 911,” Erica stated on a website that tells their story. “I was screaming at Jeff to tell me what was wrong. He didn’t answer. His eyes shut and he fell face down on the bed.”
Due to the pace of events, what happened afterward is somewhat of a blur for Erica. After talking to the dispatcher, she had to get a 225-pound man onto the floor.
Erica put the phone down and tried to move Jeff. When she turned him over on his back, she saw that his face was bluer than it was before and he was gasping for air intermittently.
Their oldest two daughters were standing in the bedroom doorway and Erica told her 10-year-old, Emily, to go get their neighbor Casey. Somehow, Erica mustered enough strength and pulled Jeff onto the floor.
After she picked up the phone again, the 911 operator asked her when Jeff was taking breaths. She knelt over her husband and every time he would gasp for air she would yell “Now!” to the operator.
From then on, Erica remembers bits and pieces about what happened. She remembers first responders, including Edmond Fire Department personnel, arriving. Understandably hysterical, she was escorted out of the room. She sat in the living room with the neighbor’s wife. She remembers saying over and over “Please don’t take him. Please don’t let him die. Please!”
When Jeff was loaded into the ambulance, Erica was crying. She managed to hug her daughters and tell them everything was going to be all right. She was driven to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in Oklahoma City, where they arrived before the ambulance.
Erica sat and waited. Family members and friends trickled in. Her stress level increased when the doctor told her the situation didn’t look good. Jeff still didn’t have a heartbeat. She was told had he not been 39 years old they would have stopped trying to resuscitate him. A lack of oxygen to his brain was another concern.
Erica’s close friend Allyson said “No! We won’t accept this!” and started praying. Others with her began praying, asking God for a miracle.
Thirty minutes later, Erica received some good news — Jeff had a heartbeat. He was transferred to critical care where his body was cooled in an effort to prevent further damage to his brain.
More struggles followed. The next day, Jeff’s potassium level was critically low and his kidneys and liver may have suffered irreparable damage. His kidneys shut down. He coded and then was stabilized. Doctors did not anticipate a recovery.
On Feb. 16, 2011, medical attention — and prayers — continued. After Jeff’s temperature returned to 98.6, a nurse told Erica she could talk to her husband. Jeff responded to her voice and tried to open his eyes.
On Feb. 17, 2011, test results showed Jeff had no brain damage. He was able to draw a dot and was making a hand motion as he asked for music. He listened to the first two songs from Hillsong’s “Beautiful Exchange.” As they played, his blood pressure leveled out.
The next day, Jeff began breathing on his own. The day after that he got out of bed into a recliner.
Three days later, Jeff walked with a walker. In antoher three days, he walked without it. Before the end of that month, he no longer required dialysis.
On March 2, 2011, Jeff was released from the hospital.
Couple recalls fateful Valentine's Day
On Feb. 14, 2011, the lives of Jeff and Erica Buchanan changed forever.
- Local News
Official offers glowing update on Senior Open
An official who has been in charge of tournaments since 2001 said the 2014 U.S. Senior Open is probably the best city event partnership he has seen.
Edmond soldier settles in housing benefits case
U.S. Attorney Sanford C. Coats said Thursday a U.S. Army reserve soldier from Edmond has agreed to pay the government $20,000 to settle civil claims related to obtaining fraudulent housing benefits.
Oklahoman returns home focused on pro-gay agenda
Troy Stevenson remembers the day when football players discovered him and his boyfriend holding hands behind an Edmond high school. After they had been chased off school property, Stevenson, called to check on his boyfriend.
“He was in hysterics,” Stevenson said. “… Like me, I thought he was scared. Did people see us? What would people think?”
Experts’ tips can help your lawn bounce back
Chances are your lawn is looking a bit bedraggled after this rough winter.
That’s not surprising. Between brutally cold temperatures and drying winds, turf took a beating this year.
Gracelawn grows larger
The Edmond City Council voted 5-0 in favor of the city purchasing 20.5 acres of land immediately to the north of Gracelawn Cemetery. Purchasing the property is needed for future expansion of the cemetery, Mayor Charles Lamb, said.
Gracelawn Cemetery is owned and operated by the city and is located on the northwest corner of Danforth and Boulevard.
Warmth needed to grow tomatoes
The time for those growing tomatoes in their garden is when the soil temperature is above 60°F and fear of frost has past. We are generally safe from frosts after April 5. However, frosts have occurred as late as May 1 in the Oklahoma City area. If you planted your tomatoes on or before April 5 last year you would have covered them several times as there were several late frosts. If you plant early, be ready to cover your plants during nighttime frosts.
Senate hopefuls meet in first debate
Accountability to the American people and the $17.5 trillion debt continues to be a major issue in the race for U.S. Senate office being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.
The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee hosted a debate Wednesday for three of the seven Republicans running for the U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.
Oklahoma City FC invites fans to design club scarf
Oklahoma’s top-tier soccer club, Oklahoma City FC, invites soccer fanatics across Oklahoma to be a part of its future by designing its scarf.
Scarves are a tradition among soccer clubs and are typically a team’s most recognizable accessory. Scarves are a matter of pride for hard-core supporters and feature team colors, logo and inspiring slogans. Scarves are a part of a team’s identity.
Agency clarifies earthquake-related misinformation
A state agency says misinformation related to the debate about the cause of more earthquakes across Central Oklahoma includes oil well types, well numbers and injection pressure.
The Prague sequence of 2011 along the Wilzetta Fault zone included a significant foreshock, a main shock of magnitude 5.7 and numerous aftershocks. It has been suggested that this sequence represents tremors triggered by fluid injection.
More recently, earthquakes have been recorded in the vicinity of Jones, Arcadia Lake, Edmond, Guthrie, Langston and Crescent. Regulators and scientists are working together to better understand what’s causing all the shaking.
Sheriff seeks items for agency history project
If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
“The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.
- More Local News Headlines
- Official offers glowing update on Senior Open