Michael Kiernan

"I shouldn't be here today," Michael Kiernan says. Michael's life almost ended when he suffered total cardiac arrest on a southbound A train that had just left 125th Street. Luckily, two NewYork-Presbyterian employees were in the same car: Dr. Sonia Tolani, then a cardiology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center, and Tony Medaglia, who worked in Labor Relations.

For 23 harrowing minutes, they performed chest compressions on Michael, trying to move the remaining oxygen in his blood to his brain until they got to 59th Street, where emergency personnel were waiting. By the end, after 2300 chest compressions, Tony's suit was soaked with sweat and Sonia's hands were covered with bruises. But their heroic efforts had worked: Michael fully recovered and retained full brain function even though he had been clinically dead for 23 minutes. Michael says, "I've been given a second chance at life—and I'm not going to waste it."

more