Baton Rouge family recovers from heartbreaking flood and heart attacks

Baton Rouge family recovers from heartbreaking flood and heart attacks
Source: John and Rhonda Huval
Source: John and Rhonda Huval
Source: John and Rhonda Huval
Source: John and Rhonda Huval
Source: John and Rhonda Huval
Source: John and Rhonda Huval

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - So many Baton Rouge area families felt the stress from the 2016 flood that according to one cardiologist at Ochsner Medical Center, there was a spike in stress-related heart attacks directly related to the disaster.

Two years after the flood, John and Rhonda Huval are finally celebrating a full recovery from the flood and a series of heart attacks.

"I had a heart attack while I was driving down Greenwell Springs Road. The chief of police of Zachary and a couple other folks got my truck stopped, busted the window and took me out. I was dead," said John Huval. "State Police got there. They pronounced me dead."

But the people on scene refused to stop, continuing CPR for 22 minutes.

"EMS picked me up. Dr. Khuri was the last one and he brought me back to life."

At Ochsner, Dr. Bahij  Khuri, Ochsner Interventional Cardiologist, used several life-saving techniques, putting in stents and dropping John's temperature.

"He was placed under hypothermia protocol where he was cooled down to 32 degrees to preserve his brain function and his body function," said Dr. Khuri. According to Dr. Khuri, John's heart attack happened because of his risk factors.

John was in ICU on life support for eight days and ultimately made a full, but lengthy recovery.

"Because of all the CPR, and all of that, all of my ribs got broken, my chest got crushed. It took us about a year to get me back," said John.

"A year later, he's almost fully recovered, back working. Then the flood hits," said Rhonda.

"Everybody in our family flooded, my wife and I, both my sons, my company, my mama, my mother-in-law, all of us," said John.

"I thought I had a touch of anxiety three weeks later, and then I had a heart attack," said Rhonda.

"We had a spike in the amount of heart attacks that happened during the time of the flood between August and September months," said Dr. Khuri.

"We had a significant amount of heart attacks, partly from the patients suffering the stress and not able to take their medications and dealing with the problems they have and trying to get back to normalcy," he said.

Fortunately, Rhonda's heart attack was considered mild.

"A couple weeks and I was good, to start painting and cleaning and doing what needed to be done," she joked.

"Then there was, you know, turn your hat around and put everything back together. We had to rebuild two mama's houses and two kids houses, a company, and our house was last," said John.

Two years after the flood, the Huval family has moved from recovery to reflection.

"The water is not a big deal. We put our houses back together. For a moment we got upset but then we realized, it's ok," said John.

Now the couple is celebrating family.

"Our son got married. I was able to witness that and be part of it then I had a daughter get married and I got to walk her down the aisle," said John.

"God had already blessed us with me coming back to life," he added. "Now we have a grandbaby on the way," she said. The Huval's grandchild is due in October.

Dr. Khuri says it's important to know if you have the risk factors for a heart attack.

He also encourages everyone to make it a priority to create a medical checklist before a flood or hurricane. He says start with making sure you always have at least a week's supply of your medicine.

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