"I'm still here"

Fifty-year-old Kelly Flaschberger recently celebrated a birthday. Not her actual birthday, but a new first birthday, for on Jan. 31 last year, Kelly died. But thanks to the quick action and coordinated efforts of many amazing people, she lived to tell about it…and celebrate a new birthday.Fifty-year-old Kelly Flaschberger recently celebrated a birthday. Not her actual birthday, but a new first birthday, for on Jan. 31 last year, Kelly died. But thanks to the quick action and coordinated efforts of many amazing people, she lived to tell about it…and celebrate a new birthday.

Kelly works at the Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center -Onalaska Clinic. Because of heart surgery years earlier, Kelly knew it was important to take care of herself, eat right and exercise. In fact, on that fateful afternoon, Kelly was in the employee exercise facility when she suddenly felt dizzy. That was the last thing she remembers.

A passing employee noticed Kelly unconscious on the floor and quickly raised the alarm.

Kelly wasn’t breathing and her heart had stopped, so the first people to arrive started CPR. They were soon joined by a cardiologist and cardiac nurse practitioner, plus a physician and two registered nurses from Urgent Care who brought emergency equipment. Thanks to everyone’s diligence, determination and teamwork, Kelly’s heart was started and she was stabilized enough for transport to Gundersen in La Crosse.

Kelly received a pacemaker with a built-in defibrillator. Kelly also went through cardiac rehabilitation which allowed her to slowly and safely return to her normal routine and exercise program.

The doctors credit her team of rescuers and the fact that Kelly was in such good health for making it possible for her to survive with no serious damage. While Kelly won’t be able to climb Mt. Everest or lead the pack in a high-intensity spinning class, she can enjoy life, a moderate level of activity…and yet another birthday.
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