Approximately six months ago, Aviram Zeiler, a United Hatzalah volunteer, saved the life of Aharon Atlas who had collapsed while watching a sporting event in Tel Aviv. The incident occurred at the Hadar Sports Center where Atlas has a sudden heart attack and fell unconscious on the floor. This past week, the two men met up again for the first time since the incident when Atlas donated two new defibrillators of the – the same exact type that saved his life. In addition, he donated a medical kit.

Aviram Zeiler and Aharon Atlas meet again 6 months after Atlas' heart attack at the Hadar Sports Center in Tel Aviv
Aviram Zeiler and Aharon Atlas meet again 6 months after Atlas’ heart attack at the Hadar Sports Center in Tel Aviv

Atlas, who is married and a father of four was 49 years old when the heart attack occurred. He attended his son’s sporting match at the sports center together with his wife and other children. “We sat in the back row” Atlas recounted. “My eight-year-old daughter was sitting on my lap and my wife and eldest son were sitting right in front of us. At a certain point, I just blacked out and don’t recall anything from that point onwards.”

Atlas had a sudden heart attack and began suffering tremors while his eight-year-old daughter was still on his lap. Doctor Zeiler, who at the time was also in the auditorium, heard the cries for help and rushed over to offer assistance. “Just a few minutes prior to the incident I was sitting in the auditorium as a spectator when I was called upon to treat a young woman who had broken her leg as part of the competition,” said Zeller.

“As I had just finished treating her I still had all of the medical equipment with me when Mr. Atlas collapsed. I ran over to where Aharon was seated and I saw his son and another adult begin to perform CPR on him. I took it all in. I saw his eight-year-old daughter terrified, his older son attempt to revive his father, his other son who was participating stop what he was doing and begin to climb through the seats as he understood that something had happened to his dad, and Aharon’s wife standing there in shock. I told myself that I was not letting this man die in front of his children, not like this and not today. I began CPR and treating Atlas. In just a few moments, other responders began to arrive at the sports complex and they began assisting me. Much to our joy, and the joy of the family we managed to bring Atlas’ pulse back. Atlas was taken to the hospital, regained consciousness fairly quickly, and five days later was released from the hospital with no long-lasting effects.”

Atlas’ doctors attested that without the quick and professional intervention of the responders on the scene the situation would have ended very differently. Atlas returned to full health and even continued teaching and coaching Aikido students. Atlas wished to express his gratitude to Dr. Zeiler and to the other volunteer responders from United Hatzalah who were instrumental in saving his life. He, therefore, donated two defibrillators, of the same make and model that helped save his life as well as a medical kit to the organization. The two met last week to make the donation and to allow Atlas to get some closure from the incident. Dr. Zeiler recounted the details of the event and the rescue for Atlas as Atlas had no recollection of the events of that night following his heart attack. Atlas surprised Zeiler with the donation that was given in his honor and in honor of the other volunteers who responded that night.