CINCINNATI — It sounded like talk between old friends.
Ed Fernandes, 78, of Miamisburg, brought up his recent open heart surgery.
“I have this big scar that I can pull off my shirt, and walk on the beach with,” said Fernandes.
“Just say you got into a knife fight,” said Jerry Mills, the Texas nurse who was on the other side of a Zoom call.
“Yeah,” said Fernandes. “You should see the other guy!”
The conversation between the two reflected light-hearted humor despite the serious roots of the pair's connection.
The two men met at the Wild Card playoff game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Las Vegas Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium, but Fernandes doesn’t remember a bit of it.
His grandson, Noah, had gotten them tickets to the game to see his beloved Raiders. They made it to Paul Brown Stadium.
“I got to the steps, and unfortunately the story ends. I don’t remember anything else,” said Fernandes.
But Mills, a die-hard Bengals fan in town for the game, does remember.
After Fernandes collapsed, Mills ran to help him. As a former Covington firefighter and paramedic, he knew what to do. The CPR he administered helped keep Fernandes alive. When Fernandes got to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, cardiac surgeon Louis Benson Louis had to tackle blockages and ventricular fibrillation. Among other things, Fernandes needed a quintuple bypass.
But the key was that lived long enough to get the help he needed.
“Your ability to survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is very low," said Louis. "Only 12% of people will be able to survive it. Absolutely having Jerry at the scene to be able to perform CPR clearly made the difference between life and death for Ed.”
The doctor called Mills a hero. In that Zoom conversation Fernandes thanked him for saving his life.
In addition to the surgical scar that came up, they also talked about the game Fernandes missed.
“The only reason I’m mad is the Raiders didn’t beat your team,” said Fernandes. “It was a good game though.”
“It was,” said Mills. “It was a really good game.”
Especially because what happened off the field means Fernandes lived to be able to say “maybe next year” about the Raiders.