Published on July 01, 2019

County Sheriff Visits the Silver Cross Team that Saved His Life

Retired Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas recently paid a visit to the Silver Cross Hospital heart team that saved his life earlier this year.

He brought along his grateful wife Barbara and daughters Joellen and Jana. And when they made their surprise entrance into a staff meeting, they were greeted with smiles, hugs and more than a few tears!

Kaupas's Heart Care Team Photo
Photo Caption: Former Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas (seated, center) is surrounded by his wife, daughters and the Silver Cross Hospital team that saved is life earlier this year

The physically fit Kaupas, who spent 41 years in law enforcement, suffered a massive heart attack in January and had to be resuscitated nearly a dozen times. But his Silver Cross heart team never gave up on him, and he and his family are forever grateful he was given a second chance at life!

Kaupas’ story began on Jan. 9, when he woke up with pain on the right side of his neck. Barbara remembers asking if she should call for an ambulance.

“I told her no, and that I was going to take a shower and see how I felt after,” he explains. “When I got out, I told her I was going to the hospital.”

Though Kaupas knows he shouldn’t have driven himself, thankfully he made it to the hospital’s Emergency Department safely and in record time. “There wasn’t a car in front of me, and I hit all green lights,” he added.

He remembers parking his car and checking himself into the emergency department. The rest is a blank, until he woke up two days later on Jan. 11.

Doctors at Silver Cross determined he was having a heart attack, and as they whisked Kaupas to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, his family was called to the hospital.

Kaupas has no recall of what happened next, but Barbara, Joellen and Jana remember everything as if it were yesterday.

All three were in the waiting room when they heard a “Code Blue” called overhead. A Code Blue indicates a patient is in cardiac arrest.

“I knew right away it was him,” Joellen recalls.

Photo Caption: Former Will County Sheriff Paul Kaupas (seated, center) is surrounded by his wife, daughters and the Silver Cross Hospital team that saved is life earlier this year.

Barbara, however, remained positive until the three were ushered into a private meeting room. There, they received the grim news that there wasn’t anything more that could be done for their husband and father – despite 45 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a dozen “shocks” to his heart.

Miraculously Kaupas’s story didn’t end there.

The hospital’s heart team continued its lifesaving work behind the scenes, and just 10 minutes later, Brendan Casey, Director of Cardiology, Interventional Radiology and Endoscopy, delivered the incredible news that they were able to restart Kaupas’s heart.

His life had been saved!

Eventually, Kaupas, who had major blockages in four of his coronary arteries – including the “widow-maker” – would require stents and bypass surgery to restore blood flow to his heart. When he recovered, he completed cardiac rehabilitation at Silver Cross.

In June, Paul, Barbara, Joellen and Jana came back to Silver Cross to thank the team that had saved his life that day back in early January.

“I wanted to thank you all in person, but I know my family wanted to thank you more,” he told the group.

Casey said his team was especially touched by the visit since they don’t often have the opportunity to see patients once they leave the cardiac catheterization lab.

“It’s easy to go through the day doing what they do, seeing patients, and forgetting how much we can impact someone’s life,” Casey said. “It’s great to have stories like Paul’s so we remember that this is why we do what we do every day.”

Today, the retired grandfather of five is back working out at his own gym three days a week. He’s also made some changes in his diet and has a new appreciation for just how fragile life can be.

“I tell people that God didn’t want me and the devil was afraid of me, so I was sent back,” he added with a smile.

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.