After near-death a year ago, Bruce Krenning and family are thankful for another chance at life

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Bruce Krenning relaxes at home today on the one-year anniversary of suffering from cardiac arrest.

ALBION – Bruce Krenning made the 7-hour drive from Albion to the Boston area on Jan.16, 2015. He didn’t feel his best, but Krenning pushed through.

He reached the area just in time for the birth of a new grandson, Jacob. He was born to Andrew and Nicole Krenning.

After that initial excitement, Krenning remembers feeling a constant cold. He was snuggled up in blankets, including on his head. On Jan. 20, a year ago, he ate dinner, settled into a recliner and was watching TV at his daughter Sarah’s house in the suburb of Chelmsford. (Sarah and her husband Peter live near Andrew and Nicole.)

Krenning told his daughter Sarah that something was wrong. He didn’t feel right. She was walking past him, when Krenning called out to her, “Sarah, help me.”

Krenning was in cardiac arrest, lifeless on the chair.

Sarah’s husband Peter called 911 and the dispatcher said to start CPR. Peter started chest compressions right away after he and Diane, Bruce’s wife, got him off the chair.

Four minutes after the call to 911, firefighters from the Chelmsford Fire Department arrived and took over CPR. They shocked Krenning with a defibrillator and his heart started beating again.

Krenning would go to Lowell General Hospital, when he spent nearly two weeks in recovery before coming home to Howlett Road in Albion. He received numerous get well cards while in the hospital and at home, and he said those lifted his spirits.

He didn’t suffer any stroke-like symptoms. He has continued an active life, although the pace is a little slower after retiring from farming and later insurance.

He remains chairman of the board of directors for Orleans Community Health, the parent organization of Medina Memorial Hospital. The board in April re-elected him as chairman.

Krenning, 72, and his wife both said they feel fortunate he survived.

“We know the statistics are not good,” Mrs. Krenning said.

The American Heart Association says only 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside a hospital survive. Effective bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, the American Heart Association reports.

Krenning said he is fortunate he had his “episode” at his daughter’s home. If he had been at his own home in rural Albion near Knowlesville, there likely wouldn’t have been enough time for paramedics to arrive with a defibrillator. Or he could have gone into cardiac arrest on the drive to Boston, when he was alone. His wife headed to the Boston area a week before he did so he could tidy up his office to tend to matters as he tried to transition into retirement.

Cardiac arrest is different than a heart attack. With cardiac arrest, the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. It may be caused by an irregular heart beat. A heart attack is caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart.

Krenning, on the one-year anniversary of his cardiac arrest today, said he is grateful for the quick response a year ago, for the support of family and friends, and care from doctors at Lowell General, locally in Medina, and his cardiologist through Catholic Health, which is affiliated with Medina Memorial.

One doctor told Krenning he suffered “sudden death,” and is fortunate he didn’t die. Krenning said he doesn’t remember anything from his cardiac arrest. He doesn’t remember seeing a “white light” or anything like that. When he regained consciousness in the hospital, he recalls being disoriented and in pain.

He has been diligent in exercising, riding a bike on Howlett Road in warm weather and eating right. At 72, he walks with a cane, but that is due to arthritis.

The incident a year ago had a big impact on the immediate family in the room. Diane said she feels her faith in God is stronger. Her son-in-law, who gave Bruce CPR, quit a career in the high-tech industry and has become a financial advisor, helping people get insurance and plan for the future, including an unexpected loss.

Bruce and Diane have four grown children and 13 grandchildren. He was honored by the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce in September 2014 with a “Lifetime Achievement” award for his many years of community service, including on the Albion and Lyndonville boards of education, the Orleans County and New York State Farm Bureau leadership, and with the hospital board.

Krenning these days is committed to the local hospital and wants to encourage people to learn the basics of CPR.

He and his wife also are active members of the East Shelby Community Bible Church.

“We’ve always had a strong faith,” Mrs. Krenning said. “But it has developed more. We’re calmer about things now. We know the importance of caring about other people.”