Mason man survives near-fatal 'widowmaker' heart attack thanks to a special life-saving machine

First responders can't believe he's still alive
LUCAS device, used by the Mason Fire/EMS to save the live  of WIlliam Achberger
Posted at 11:11 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-01 11:28:55-05

MASON, Ohio — First responders call William Achberger a walking miracle after he survived a "widowmaker" heart attack with 90% artery blockage.

Achberger is alive and well due in large part to a machine called a LUCAS device. LUCAS stands for Lund University Cardiopulmonary Assist System.

"Everything that fell into place, it's just miraculous," Achberger said.

Jan. 19 was the day Achberger's life stopped -- and started again. The 55-year-old father of two was walking his dog when he felt something wrong.

"I think I was a walking zombie," Achberger said. "I don't remember what I did."

He thought he had the flu, so he went home to rest and that's where his wife found him unresponsive. His daughter started chest compressions as they waited for first responders.

"I think pretty much at that point I was gone," Achberger said.

He said what happened over the next few hours is all a blur for him, but Mason police and fire emergency officials remember it well.

"It didn't seem positive," police officer Michael Sechrist said. "He had been non-breathing for at least several minutes, which is never a good thing."

Police performed CPR until firefighter/paramedics arrived with the life-saving LUCAS device.

"It helps free up a layperson and provides continuous CPR to the patient that’s uninterrupted, which is very important," firefighter/paramedic Ryan Tucker said.

The LUCAS device kept Achberger's heart pumping even after he coded multiple times and was technically dead for more than two hours.

Many departments struggle to afford the life-saving devices, which cost about $15,000.

"It shouldn't be a lottery on which EMS team arrives to you, whether or not they have this component that saves your life," Achberger said.

Achberger plans to meet everyone who had a hand in saving his life. That includes traveling to Lund University in Sweden to meet the team that developed the LUCAS device.