Cairns featured in News & Observer

Dr. Bruce Cairns, director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center, was recently featured in the News & Observer for his cardiac arrest experience -- and for the emergency, life-saving care he received at the UNC Wellness Center in Chapel Hill.

No expression of gratitude will be too elaborate for Dr. Bruce Cairns when he sits down to a turkey dinner with his family Thursday.

Every day is Thanksgiving Day now.

For the past 68 days, Cairns has been giving thanks for something he equates to winning the lottery – the chance to see his children grow up.

Sept. 18 started like any other for Cairns, chairman of the faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he is also a surgeon, medical professor and director of the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center. At the beginning of a nonstop day in his nonstop schedule, Cairns arrived early for his morning workout at the UNC Wellness Center in Chapel Hill.

After swimming laps, Cairns, 52, stepped on the treadmill for a cool down, a gentle jog, as the TV screens played the morning shows. The timer on the machine counted down the seconds – 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15.

He was about to push the stop button when he felt lightheaded. He grabbed for the rails.

“Then the next thing I know I’m ... laying on the ground, looking up and I’m listening to people talking about coding,” Cairns said in a recent interview at the center where he collapsed. “I’m thinking I’m watching a TV show, and I’m wondering why I’m doing that when I need to be at work.”

Cairns had suffered sudden cardiac arrest. His heart stopped.

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