Friday, December 11, 2020, is a date that will forever be imprinted on the mind of Paul Donofro. The longtime Marianna resident and architect began that day as he usually does with a workout at Chipola Fitness Center before going to work.
“Everything was fine. I had just finished my workout, and then suddenly, it hit me. From there, I do not remember anything, but my wife and friends said I fell face first onto the floor,” Paul explained. “Shannon Powell who was working out that morning, too, and who works at Jackson Hospital, immediately checked for a pulse – I had none. They said she flew halfway across the gym, grabbed the AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) from the wall and administered the shock to get my heart beating again.”
“I credit Dr. Joe Gay for making sure that the gym had an AED for emergencies just like mine,” Paul explained. “Even though I was healthy and my heart itself was strong, I had major blockages in my arteries that caused the heart attack. Thankfully, my heart stopped when and where it did, and Shannon used that AED and did CPR and my friends called 9-1-1.”
Fire Rescue responded quickly and got Paul to the hospital. He had emergency bypass surgery in Dothan and is now fully recovered and back to his daily exercise routine in the gym.
“I am grateful that my heart stopped in that gym, because my friends saved my life that day. I am also grateful to Fire rescue, the hospitals, and the doctors and nurses who helped me,” Paul added. “Very grateful.”