A scuba diving accident nearly took the life of Hilary Greenberg, in Costa Rica. Her husband, Bill, found her and brought her to the surface. Once there, he started doing rescue breaths as a dive master did chest compressions, while they also signaled for the boat, which was hundreds of feet away.
They continued cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for about 10 minutes, with the hope that she would show signs of life.
An hour earlier, they had been enjoying a scuba diving expedition. After about ten minutes, an underwater surge pulled Hilary away from the group. It sent her torpedoing toward a coral reef. “I remember feeling terrified and being shoved violently,” she recalled. “I had no idea why I was being shoved so hard. And that’s the last thing I remember.”
The diveboat eventually picked up the Greenbergs, and Hilary was lifted on board, where CPR continued for another thirty minutes as she lay there without a pulse. The couple’s children returned from their dive to find their mother turning blue.
As they made it to mainland, they found that Hilary had a pulse. They stayed at a local hospital as the Divers Alert Network helped arrange a medical evacuation for her back to the United States. She was flown that night to Florida, where the family spent more than a week wondering what permanent damage she had suffered as doctors worked to stabilize her failing organs.
“The boys were very concerned,” Bill Greenberg said. “They kept asking, ‘Is mom going to be OK?’ I told them, ‘We have to get lucky and hope for a miracle.’ ”After about 14 days and three hospital stays, his wife was back in Westchester County, at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains. She still hadn’t spoken much, and family members didn’t know what type of brain damage to expect. Their fear turned to optimism when she started having conversations with her visitors.
A year later, she’s still recovering, and there is some brain damage, but not much. “The most important thing people can take from this whole ordeal is to go out and learn CPR,” Hilary Greenberg said. “It takes a maximum of three hours to learn how to potentially save someone’s life.”