On a morning in late January, 75-year-old Dave Corless had just finished a water aerobics class at the Summerville Family YMCA. It was his normal routine to attend the class from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., five days a week. But this morning the healthy, fit man who had no history of heart disease, suddenly had a heart attack.
He fell backwards and lay motionless on the floor. Two men; Dwayne Stephens and Kendall Ware, were also in the locker room and began to perform CPR immediately. Stephens and Ware both worked as police officers earlier in their careers and while they weren’t expecting to use first responder training that day- it saved Corless’ life.
“We started CPR and did that for a while and then YMCA staff members brought us an AED machine, Stephens said. “We shocked him three times before EMS arrived. We kept compressions going and before he left the building, he had a pulse.”
Corless’ wife of 47 years, Kathy Corless, said the power of prayer played a role in her husband’s survival.
“We know so many people were praying for him and God put those men; Dwayne and Kendall, right there- in the right place at the right time,” Kathy said. “We know that he was gone...he is a miracle. We are so thankful.”
Corless was taken to Trident Medical Center where his own daughter, Kristy Blanco, works as an X-ray technician. She met her father in the ER. Soon he had a defibrillator and pacemaker installed. Coincidently, one of the Cath Lab nurses who helped in the procedure, Joan Stephens, is married to Dwayne.
Corless is still recovering from his head injury at Trident Medical Center. On Valentine’s Day, his family gathered around him to shower him with their love. Dwayne and Joan also dropped by to check on Corless and then oddly enough; Kendall Ware, who had no prior knowledge of the gathering, also stopped by out of the blue to see how his new friend was feeling.
A month ago the three men were merely acquaintances; they often exchanged pleasantries if they attended the same exercise classes. Now everything is different. The medical miracle formed a unique bond between them.
“It feels weird because now it seems like we all have some kind of attachment to each other,” Ware said.
Stephens echoed that and said it is odd because all three of them only vaguely noticed one another before that has changed.
“We always saw each other in passing at the YMCA- but this has drawn us together,” Stephens said.
Dave and Kathy’s 48th wedding anniversary is in March. Kathy reminisced on how her husband has always maintained his health and fitness- ever since his youth when his basketball team at North Charleston High School won the Lower State Championship in 1961 and 1962. Corless later coached basketball at area high schools.