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Three months after his heart stopped during a triathlon, Christopher Camden is running again

Martinsville Bulletin - 1/3/2018

Why you know him: Christopher Camden collapsed just short of the finish line at the Patriots Sprint triathlon at Jamestown Beach Event Park on Sept. 10.

His wife, Dr. Teresa Camden, a sports medicine physician, responded to the call for a medic. As emergency medical personnel worked to revive the fallen runner, Teresa - glancing over her shoulder to see if her husband was approaching the finish line - grabbed the victim's ankles to get blood flowing to his brain. It was only after hearing one of the responders say her husband's name that she realized, to her horror, that Christopher was the unconscious triathlete.

"He was out a full eight minutes - no heartbeat; no breathing," his wife recalled. After being taken to hospitals in Williamsburg and Newport News, he landed at VCU Medical Center, where he underwent a double bypass on Sept. 12.

What's new: Christopher - an Army veteran of the Persian Gulf War who is a teacher's aide at Holman Middle School in Henrico County - was discharged from VCU Medical Center on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 17. That afternoon, he began feeling dizzy.

Teresa got him to lie down, and he passed out. "I saw a light. I then saw a gold cross. I was resuscitated by my wife," he said.

EMT responders rushed him to Henrico Doctors' Hospital. The next day, he was moved to VCU Medical Center, where his chest was reopened and he was treated for internal bleeding, Christopher said. He remained hospitalized until Oct. 5.

Despite his hardships, Christopher - interviewed by telephone as he vacationed with his family in Hawaii - considers himself fortunate.

After all, his initial collapse, occurring near the finish line, meant help was immediately available. And his wife was about to leave the home to fill his prescriptions when he passed out after his release, he said.

"I'm feeling good. ... I am running, although it's a 10- or 11-minute mile pace. I'm slowly but surely building up my cardiovascular endurance all the time," he said.

He has also swam and ridden a bike. "Just knowing I'm able to move about - that's inspiring."

He's still undergoing rehab but feels stronger in other ways. He returned to work at Holman on Nov. 6. When he tells his story, people tend to open up to him about their travails, or that of family members.

He believes his story "can give them hope, inspiration and encouragement. It's just been very enlightening. I believe the Lord is working in my life."

 
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