Emergency Heart Surgery Prompts Police Officer to Help in Puerto Rico

Detective Chris Decker with New Hampshire State Police had a chance to protect the lives that saved his.

"Their security team walked off the job," Decker said, describing a makeshift hospital in Puerto Rico.

He was there volunteering in November, helping to get supplies to people who live in rural parts of the hurricane-ravaged island.

While his team was preparing to make a delivery, they discovered the hospital had been left without proper protection.

"They've got generators, they've got medications, food and water," he said.

Also inside was staff from Massachusetts General Hospital, including nurse Catherine Liberles.

"It was at that point that Chris and his buddies from New Hampshire State Police signed up to help anyway they could," she said.

Decker underwent emergency open heart surgery Mother's Day weekend and has always thought about ways to repay the doctors who saved his life.

"Amazing people, absolutely amazing people," is how Decker describes the doctor and staff that saved him.

Dr. Thoralf Sundt performed his bypass surgery after he suffered a "widow-maker heart attack."

"There are two arteries on the heart, the arteries that bring the blood supply to the muscle," said Dr Sundt, the director of the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center and chief of Cardiac Surgery.

Decker's artery that supplies blood to two-thirds of his heart was blocked.

"I basically resigned myself to the fact that I was dying," Decker said.

When describing his recovery after surgery Dr. Sundt said, "his heart responded beautifully."

Since then, he's even hiked Mount Washington.

"Exactly 100 days from my surgery, my older daughter and I hiked Mount Washington," said Decker. "Took me four hours but I got to the top."

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