Ruben Limon at mile four of the mud run, just moments before being rushed to the hospital.

Ruben Limon at mile four of the mud run, just moments before being rushed to the hospital.

Ruben Limon, 47, describes himself as the average American. He works from home, eats intuitively but also treats himself, and has passions, his being a ballroom dancer for 10 years. Always wanting to compete in a mud run, he took on the challenge not knowing a heart attack and cardiac arrest were going to meet him before the finish line.

Limon’s day began like any other, filled with excitement and camaraderie as he embarked on the mud run with friends. However, around mile three, Limon's body began to falter. Despite his determination, he struggled to catch his breath, his lungs burning with each labored breath.

As the race progressed, Limon’s condition deteriorated rapidly. On his back and parallel to the ground, Limon and other runners maneuvered through the chilled muddy water by grappling and crawling along a chain link fence. By mile five, he found himself unable to continue, his body betraying him as his lungs screamed for air.

“It was hard not to panic,” Limon said. “I made it out and to the water station, then only another 50 yards.

He sat down, felt dizzy, and fellow runners recognized the severity of his situation and called for help.

Emergency responders swiftly arrived and rushed Limon to Loma Linda University Medical Center's – Murrieta emergency department.

“It hurt too much to answer any questions, but at some point on the way to the hospital my lungs didn’t hurt anymore so I fell asleep,” Limon said.

“Sir! Sir! You just had a heart attack!,” the EMTs yelled at Limon.

After making it to the hospital, a flood of people came to his side, he lost all strength, unable to open his eyes, but listened to the chaos surrounding him. What followed was a whirlwind of lifesaving interventions as Limon’s heart faltered, ultimately succumbing to cardiac arrest.

He flatlined for five minutes.

Limon regained consciousness on the ninth of ten shocks.

Limon vividly recounts the moments of his near-death experience, from the blur of medical staff surrounding him to the sensation of his heart being shocked back to life. Through it all, he remained remarkably calm and resolute, buoyed by an unwavering determination to survive.

“I never felt panicked, scared, or afraid for my life through the whole process. It was just something to get through,” Limon said. “I kept telling myself I can get through this, I am going to live.”

In the critical hours following, Limon underwent multiple procedures to stabilize his condition by Harit Desai, MD, associate director for the cardiac catheterization lab and structural heart intervention program at LLUMC – Murrieta.

“Typical heart attacks are the result of blockage in one artery,” Desai said. “In his case, we saw a very rare two of the three arteries 100% blocked.”

Desai first installed a heart pump that temporarily helps maintain blood flow during high-risk interventions. Limon received CPR by dedicated staff to pump blood to his heart until the pump was placed to do it.

After the pump stabilized his heart, staff administered anesthesia so Desai could insert a permanent stent from Limon’s groin to his heart that helps keep the blocked coronary artery open.

"We were able to treat Ruben because he listened to his body at just the right time," Desai said. "Even though you're healthy, don't ignore the signs."

After the procedure, Limon lied awake in the ICU and was gradually let off the heart pump as his heart grew stronger from the regenerated blood flow.

“I remember seeing my wife for the first time,” Limon said. “I was unable to speak, took her hand feeling so lucky to be alive, and tried to tell her 'I love you, I'm going to make it.'”

Limon expressed profound gratitude for the expert care received from the dedicated medical team.

“I'm not the religious type but I do believe that I landed in heaven on earth,” he said. “Every single paramedic, nurse, doctor, physical therapist, and staff took so much care of my well-being and looked after me that I swear you are all angels in disguise.”

After days spent in the hospital under watchful staff, Limon finally returned home, grateful for his wife’s constant love and presence.

“Life’s too short to not live life with your life partner,” he said.

Limon now finds gratitude in the small things. Together he and his wife look forward to ballroom dance competitions, an opportunity he once shied away from.

“I have a new lease on life. I get to live my second life. My wife gets to have her husband and dance partner back. My mother gets to keep her baby son. My large family and friends get to hear my bad jokes. And lastly, my fur baby black cat gets to cuddle with me.”

To learn more about heart care services offered at Loma Linda University Medical Center – Murrieta, visit the Heart Care webpage or call 951-290-4000.