Shocked 54 Times, Australian Man Cheats Death

February 23, 2016—No one thought Gene Hildebrand was going to make it. During the three-hour medical flight from Alice Springs to Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) used a ZOLL X Series® defibrillator to shock his heart 54 times to keep him alive!

Hildebrand, a 50-year-old bus driver, was driving his usual route when severe chest pain caused him to seek medical attention. Staff at Alice Springs Hospital determined he was having a major heart attack and needed life-saving heart surgery at the Royal Adelaide Hospital 1,531 km (951 miles) away. The quickest and safest way to get him there was under the medical care of the RFDS flying intensive care unit.

Hildebrand arrested the first time before being loaded onto the plane. He was stabilized but arrested several more times before the plane took off. Throughout the flight, both the flight nurse and doctor were challenged, using CPR and every other skill and drug they had to keep Hildebrand alive. The pair lost track of the number of defibrillator shocks they had administered. When they landed, they checked the X Series and discovered that Hildebrand had been shocked 54 times.

“I have to be the luckiest person in Australia,” said Hildebrand.