The Long Island hockey community rallied around one of its own on Sunday with a fundraiser to spotlight the incredible work by the staff of the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset after they saved a coach who went into cardiac arrest during a game.
Kent Hitchcock, 52, of Manhasset, has made a miraculous recovery in the four months since his near-death experience, thanks to first responders on the scene and major open heart surgery performed at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital.
The event, which raised $4,500 for the Heart Hospital, was organized by the LI Edge U18 club hockey team and their family members. The teenaged hockey players offered skating lessons during the two-hour fundraiser at the Port Washington Skating Center, which included raffle items such as a signed New York Islander jersey, hockey sticks and numerous gifts donated by local merchants. Ed Westfall, a former Islanders legend and Stanley Cup winner, was also on hand.
“Most of us have known ‘Coach Hitch’ since we were in middle school,” said Christopher Boisselle, a rising senior at Manhasset High School who spearheaded the fundraiser. “We are so grateful for his successful heart surgery. As a team, we wanted to say thank you to the Heart Hospital for saving our coach’s life and to raise awareness about heart disease.”
The LI Edge reached the Long Island Championship last March and built a 3-1 lead in the second period when Mr. Hitchcock, the head coach, suddenly became lightheaded and couldn’t breathe. In front of a packed rink in Dix Hills, Mr. Hitchcock collapsed, turned blue and stopped breathing. First responders gave him CPR and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to reset his heartbeat.
“The heart attack came out of nowhere,” said Mr. Hitchcock, an avid golfer and workout warrior whose three sons also play hockey. “Next to a hospital, I was lucky this happened at a hockey rink because staff and first responders know how to use a defibrillator. They saved my life!”
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Mr. Hitchock, who works at a Manhattan investment bank, was conscious when the ambulance arrived. He was brought to Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital, where cardiologist Raj Patcha, MD, performed a cardiac catheterization to diagnose the cardiac problem and inserted an intra-aortic balloon pump to stabilize Mr. Hitchcock, so he could be transferred to the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital for cardiac surgery.
At the Heart Hospital, Mr. Hitchcock and his wife, Mia, met Alan Hartman, MD, chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Northwell Health. He explained that a quadruple coronary artery bypass graft needed to be done immediately and credited the high-level of cardiac care at Huntington Hospital, a community hospital, as key in stabilizing Mr. Hitchcock before he could receive open heart surgery. Mr. Hitchcock underwent successful surgery on March 7 and received follow up care at home by Heart Hospital nurse practitioners. He was back on the ice four weeks later as well as exercising regularly.
“Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer in this country,” said Dr. Hartman, who attended the fundraiser. “Mr. Hitchcock, who is part of a large, close-knit hockey community, has already made an impact in his circle about cardiac disease. Community events like these raise awareness even further and education always makes a difference in saving lives.”
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