Caledonia man survives a heart attack thanks to Mayo Clinic and an unexpected family member

CALEDONIA, MN. (WKBT)- A Houston County man is counting his blessing after surviving a heart attack.  Tom Gavin had a lot of help from Mayo Clinic staff and an unexpected family member. 

If home is where the heart is, Tom Gavin is there.  The 59year old has lived and worked in Caledonia, Minnesota his entire life  But it wasn’t until this year, Tom realized all he had to lose. “That’ when it really hit home,”, said Gavin.

The married, father of two was at work when he says if felt like he ran out of air. A co-worker put Tom in his truck to make the nearly 30-minute drive to Mayo Clinic in La Crosse.  By the time they pulled up to the ER, Tom’s heart has stopped and he wasn’t breathing. 

As you can see on the hospital security video, nurse Aaron Augedahl didn’t hesitate. He pulled Tom out of the truck and started CPR on the hospital sidewalk. “Longest two minutes of my life doing compressions, just looking over your shoulder praying that everybody comes and helps.” remembers Aaron.

Help and an AED did arrive in time to restart Tom’s heart and prep him for surgery to remove the blockage in his artery. That’s when nurse Aaron realized, Tom wasn’t just his patient. Tom is Aaron’s cousin. “I whispered to the doctor next to me, I know this guy. It was pretty overwhelming actually, (I was) just so happy to see he came out of it the way he did.”, said Aaron.

Tom made it out of surgery and out of the hospital. Back to his family, less than two days after his heart attack.  “I said thank you so much. You saved his life”. said Tom’s wife Carla. 

Tom and Aaron haven’t seen one another since the hospital, but Aaron is never far from Tom’s thoughts. “Definitely a life saver and good at what he does.”, says Tom. 

Today Tom is taking more time to take care of himself, eating right, and exercising often. He’s grateful to be back home, where his heart is happy and healthy. “I want to keep living. I have a wife and kids who need me, and I need them.”, says Tom.

Tom had no clue how sick he was, which is why he and his co-worker drove into La Crosse instead of calling an ambulance.  That’s one reason tom wanted to share his story with News 8 Now. Tom now understands how important it is to manage stress and make good choices. Tom was a smoker.  He quit cold turkey the day of his heart attack. 

February is “Heart Month”. Tom says don’t put it off. Get heart healthy now, while you can.