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A mother's second chance

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Leigh visited the emergency department at Matthews Medical Center 
two weeks after surgery. L to R: Charlotte (assisting nurse in the ED), 
Dr. Small (the attending physician while Leigh was in the ED), Leigh 
Poplin, Deanne Nelson (nurse assigned to Leigh in the ED). These 
are members of the team that saved Leigh’s life on March 4, 2013.

In March, Leigh Poplin was helping her two-year-old daughter get dressed for daycare when she suddenly began experiencing severe chest pains. After searching the symptom on his cell phone, her husband quickly dialed 9-1-1 fearing that Leigh was having a heart attack. Leigh had no medical history of heart disease, and had a healthy delivery with her son just 11 days prior at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center.

Only a few minutes after arriving in the emergency department at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center, Leigh became unresponsive and lost her pulse. The emergency room staff shocked her nine times with a defibrillator, but Leigh’s condition did not improve. Leigh was transported to the cath lab and repeatedly shocked again. This time, Leigh began to regain consciousness. Cardiologist Gary Niess, MD, determined that Leigh needed to have emergency open heart surgery.

She was transported by Novant Health critical care transport to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center where she underwent surgery. It took only one hour and 16 minutes after arriving at Matthews Medical Center for Leigh to be evaluated, treated and transported to Presbyterian Medical Center for open-heart surgery.

Leigh's husband David Poplin, daughter Addison Poplin 
and newborn son Adam Poplin

Leigh is fully recovered and grateful she will be around to celebrate future birthdays, graduations and weddings with her children and husband. “Thank you to the members of the amazing team that saved my life!” said Leigh.

Leigh’s story is an example of the extraordinary teamwork that occurs in Novant Health facilities daily. “Even getting Leigh up to the cath lab was an orchestra conducted by several departments,” said Heather Mathew, nurse manager at Matthews Medical Center. “It showed how well-oiled and efficiently our departments can work together.”

Adam (10 days old) – picture taken the day before Leigh’s heart attack