Family photo
Dallan Isom, 29, and his wife, Samantha, at a Jazz game. He recently survived a heart attack that doctors say the survival rate is less than 1 percent. His wife says it doesn't appear he has suffered any brain damage.

SALT LAKE CITY — Samantha Isom can’t imagine a life without her husband. Less than a week ago, Dallan Isom, 29, survived a heart attack that doctors say would have killed 99 percent of people.

“It’s a miracle that he’s alive and he’s well,” his wife said.

Wednesday morning, she woke up to find him struggling. She called 911 and within 20 minutes paramedics were there. She said she believed he wasn't breathing for 15 to 20 minutes. She went to their son’s room while paramedics worked on her husband.

“I didn’t know if he was alive,” Samantha Isom said. “Whenever they passed, I’d say, 'Is he alive?' And they would say, 'We’re doing the best we can.'”

Dallan Isom had suffered a heart attack. He was airlifted to University of Utah Hospital where doctors had to cool his body and keep him sedated to try to prevent brain damage, Samantha Isom said.

“I was actually really scared to have him wake up and not be him, you know,” she said.

She said doctors told her it could be 72 hours before he came to. Instead, she said, he was alert within 24 hours and showed no signs of brain damage.

“(The doctor) said right hand, thumbs up, (and) he did,” she said. “Left hand two fingers, one finger. He was doing everything and I had this wave of relief, he’s with us.”

Samantha Isom said Dallan was awake and joking with doctors.

“He’s really focused on this new life that he has, and he wants to live it to the fullest,” she said.

Dr. John Ryan, a cardiologist at University Hospital, noted that such recoveries are rare.

“In an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, the expected survival rate is less than 1 percent,” Ryan said. “The fact that he is doing as well as he is doing is really miraculous.”

He said this illustrates why people should learn CPR and be ready to use it.

“I think it’s worthwhile, kind of taking stock in your family, and say if someone in this family around Thanksgiving, if someone here had a cardiac arrest, would we be comfortable doing chest compressions and CPR?” Ryan said.

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Samantha Isom said they've learned that her husband has a genetic heart condition that led to the attack. She said they'll test the rest of the family, so they can be more aware of the issue.

A GoFundMe account, Help for Dallan Isom and Family, has been set up to raise money for his medical bills, recovery and ongoing help if he is unable to work for any period of time.

Wherever the Isoms celebrate their Thanksgiving meal, they’ll be focused on each other and all the friends and family who’ve supported them.

“It’s truly a miracle, and I think this will be the best Thanksgiving we’ve ever had because we couldn’t be more thankful,” she said.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc