Delaware Survivor Story: Mark Kleinschmidt

Mark Kleinschmidt served 12 years as President of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. A graduate of the University of Delaware, Mark currently owns his own consulting company M2K Associates. One day, Mark finished his early morning five-mile run and was getting ready for work. What happened next changed everything. We are grateful to Mark for sharing his compelling and powerful story.

A little background:

My whole family was down the Jersey shore for our annual vacation, and I had come back for meetings. As it turned out, my daughter Allison, who lives in Philly, happened to be home to pick up some items.  Oh, by the way, she is a nurse, which is an important part of my story.

After an early morning five-mile run, I was getting ready for work, but I did not stop sweating. I did not think much of it since it was a hot day. Then there was an incredible tightness in my chest. I was almost paralyzed with pain. Somehow, I was able to crawl and knock on my daughter’s bedroom door. I told her something was wrong. Her nurse instincts kicked in and she knew I was having a heart attack. She knew exactly what to do. Somehow, she got me back to my bedroom, gave me aspirin, called 911, and then I passed out. At this point she started CPR. She performed CPR for twenty minutes by HERSELF until the paramedics arrived.

What Happened Next & Time in the Hospital

The paramedics arrived and I flatlined, so they continued CPR and shocked me seven times to resuscitate me.  I was transported to ChristianaCare.  On the way, I flatlined again and additional shocks brought me back.  I was taken to the Cardiac Unit and I flatlined a third time — but thankfully was brought back again. I had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, which is technically not a heart attack. Cardiac arrest is often fatal if appropriate steps like CPR are not taken immediately. Doctors implanted a stent in my left anterior descending artery to open the artery and get my blood flowing once again.  But my medical conditions remained complicated. I experienced respiratory arrest and developed fluid in my lungs, which led to an extended stay in the hospital for 30 days.

Running to Recovery

When I was finally discharged, I realized I was incredibly fortunate.  I had a second chance at life. I completed cardiac rehab and started a new workout and running routine and set a goal to run a 5K on New Year’s Day. The Docs, PTs and OTs were skeptical — but I did it! My running and workout routine continued as I ran a half marathon in Disney and the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon.

Time to Move On

When I was healthy enough to get back to work at the Chamber of Commerce in November — things did not feel right. I knew I needed a change. Trying to make the most of my second chance, I completed a master’s degree in Economics and Entrepreneurship at UD, started teaching at Del Tech, and went on what I called a victory tour to connect with family and friends to say hello. I also started a new consulting practice, M2K Associates, my initials with the number 2 to signify my second chance at life.

I am tremendously thankful and appreciative for all the people in my life—Not the things in my life.

What does my story mean for you?

You need to take two easy action steps:

    1. Strokes and heart attacks can be prevented with early detection. Know your family history. You also need to know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, and other key vital stats.
    2. Learn CPR. You can save a life. Our good friends at the American Heart Association can help you with the training.