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Johanna's Story

Jun 6, 2019

Johanna credits Saint Francis-Bartlett with Saving Her Life

Johanna Deaton, heart attack survivor

Johanna Deaton and Hospital StaffThe first day of the year was nearly the last day of Johanna Deaton’s life.

Johanna had been feeling a bit under the weather for a few days and had spent a quiet New Year’s Eve, staying up just long enough to welcome in the New Year.

The next day she wanted to get some fresh air, so she and her husband Chris decided to do some shopping. On the way to the store, despite the chilly temperature, Johanna was sweating. She opened the car window to get some fresh air.

Once inside the store, while Chris went off to do some shopping, Johanna didn’t have the energy to accompany him and stayed behind to browse some books. Before long, she was leaning on a display to hold herself upright. Then she was sitting on the ground.

“Chris came back to check on me,” said Johanna, a mother of three children. “I was feeling worse. My arms felt like jelly. Stabbing pains started in my back. Chris decided it was time to call 9-1-1.”

City of Bartlett firefighter/paramedics Paul King and Ronald French quickly arrived on the scene and began evaluating Johanna.

“When we first arrived, there were multiple possibilities for Ms. Deaton’s symptoms,” said French, an EMS provider with 24 years of experience. “It could have been anything from a stroke to dehydration or flu.  But once we did the 12 lead EKG and saw the ST elevation, we knew we had a serious situation with a STEMI.”

“I heard someone say ‘I think she’s having a heart attack,’” says Johanna. “I thought, ‘They can’t be talking about me.’”

But they were talking about her. Johanna was soon being transported to Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett, where she would be treated for a STEMI. A STEMI is a very serious type of heart attack in which one of the heart’s major arteries is completely blocked.

After arriving in the emergency room, Johanna was quickly transported to one of the hospital’s interventional labs for treatment. As the STEMI team assembled, Johanna was unable to open her eyes. But she was aware of her surroundings, and she felt confident about the treatment she was receiving.

“I remember feeling very safe. People in the room were calmly communicating with each other about what they were going to do. I never had any doubt that I was in good hands,” said Johanna.

Led by cardiologist Muhammad Janjua, M.D., the team treated Johanna by inserting a stent into the artery. The purpose of a stent is to restore blood flow through narrow or blocked arteries. The effect was immediate.

“Do you feel great?” asked Dr. Janjua.

“I didn’t feel great, but I felt a whole lot better,” Johanna says with a smile. “I could open my eyes. I was able to talk. The pain was gone as quickly as it had come.”

“Johanna had a 100 percent blockage of the left anterior descending artery,” said Janjua, a physician with Saint Francis Cardiology Associates of Memphis. “The stent allowed us to remove that blockage and immediately restore the flow of blood to her heart.”

In addition to the STEMI program at Saint Francis-Bartlett, the hospital has received chest pain center accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC). This accreditation is a result of the hospital meeting or exceeding the stringent criteria and onsite review by SCPC’s accreditation review specialists.

“As a paramedic, we are really excited about the advancements Saint Francis-Bartlett has made in cardiac care,” said French. “When you are dealing with a heart attack, time is muscle. That’s why the service Saint Francis is providing is extremely valuable to citizens.”

As for Johanna, she attended cardiac rehabilitation and has been able to resume all of the activities she enjoyed prior to her heart attack.

“Knowing what bad shape I was in, it’s really surreal how good I now feel. I am thankful for the people that took care of me. I am thankful to be alive.”