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28-Year-Old who Suffered Heart Attack at L.A. Marathon Meets Rescuers

"Within 60 seconds I had able, capable hands working on me to revive me," said Jode Lebeda.

LAFD Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone addresses the media about a man who collapsed in cardiac arrest during the 2014 ASICS Los Angeles Marathon, Jode Lebeda, who was reunited with rescuers. Photo courtesy the Los Angeles Fire Department.
LAFD Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone addresses the media about a man who collapsed in cardiac arrest during the 2014 ASICS Los Angeles Marathon, Jode Lebeda, who was reunited with rescuers. Photo courtesy the Los Angeles Fire Department.

A man who nearly died when he got overheated during the Los Angeles Marathon said during an emotional reunion with his rescuers today that he feels like the luckiest person in the world to be alive.

Jode Lebeda, 28, was running the 2014 ASICS LA Marathon March 9 when he went into cardiac arrest at mile 20 in West Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Lebeda, who was running the race to check off an item on his bucket list, said he nearly died.

"Going down where I went down and having that immediate support -- within 60 seconds I had able, capable hands working on me to revive me," Lebeda said. "One hundred feet one way or the other, and I wouldn't be here today."

He thanked the number of paramedics and the medical team that saved his life.

"It makes you want to go buy a lottery ticket almost," Lebeda said.

Dr. Paul Vespa, director of UCLA Medical Center's Neurointensive Care Unit, said Lebeda had been close to dying.

"It's amazing and remarkable the team got to him very quickly, immediately did exactly what they are supposed to do, did it well and got him to the hospital quickly," Vespa said.

LAFD Interim Fire Chief James Featherstone said today was an emotional day for a number of reasons, especially since nearly 36,000 runners took part today in the Boston Marathon a year after the horrific bombings that married last year's race.

Spectators observed a moment of silence at the finish line in Boston this afternoon, before erupting into cheers in support of the runners.

Featherstone said it was the quick action of paramedics and access to technology that saved Lebeda's life -- showing the importance of the "chain of survival."

"It serves as a great reminder to the public about bystander CPR and the access to automatic external defibrillators that can be found throughout the city," Featherstone said.

--City News Service


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