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A Moment In Time: Dr. Belshe Makes History

As we approach the six-month mark of Dr. Joseph Belshe’s passing, we feel compelled to honor him one final time. The following story has been on our desk for over a year, and it’s too good not to share with the community he built. TIME Magazine even published an article about the heroic act back in 1957! Whenever we think of Dr. Belshe, we are reminded how fortunate we are to have been a part of his legacy..

Shocking The Heart

In January 1957, in the small Wisconsin town of St. Croix Falls (pop. 1,500 at the time), history was made when three doctors conquered a medical first. When resident William F. suffered a massive heart attack and his heart stopped beating, it was assumed he was dead upon arrival. However, no one knew that his team of doctors had other plans, our very own Dr. Joseph Belshe among them.

Given the town’s size, the St. Croix Memorial Valley Hospital was small and slightly underfunded. This meant technology was lacking, and there was no fancy defibrillator on site. When the patient arrived, Dr. Belshe made an instant decision to act. He ripped open his clothes, made an incision, and plunged his hand into the man’s chest to massage the stilled organ. After 10 to 15 minutes of massage, all the team received was a flutter – “ventricular fibrillation,” usually a sure sign of a dying heart. With no aforementioned defibrillator, the team had to get creative.

Dr. Riegel, one of the other doctors on staff that day, looked around the room and spied an extension cord. Quickly getting to work, he cut the outlet off the cord in the emergency room, stripped the insulation off the ends of the wires, and plugged the other end into the other ordinary house current. With gloves on, he touched the wires to the opposite sides of the patient’s heart. The results were not immediate. The shock failed twice. Yet, the team did not get discouraged. Dr. Riegel wrapped each wire around the base of a hypodermic needle and plunged the needles into the heart muscle. Under this heroic stimulus, William’s heart resumed its natural beat.

After a week in the hospital, William was able to go home, and he went on to live a long, healthy life into his mid-80s. All because of our founder, Dr. Joseph Belshe, and the incredible doctors on his team who devoted their lives to saving others.

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TIME Magazine: https://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,723807,00.html