ItHome Cardiac Arrest Heart attack patient thanks doctor by sharing surf stoke – Orange County Register

Heart attack patient thanks doctor by sharing surf stoke – Orange County Register

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Heart attack patient thanks doctor by sharing surf stoke – Orange County Register

In the cold winters living in Chicago, Sanjay Bhojraj dreamed of one day learning to surf.

So when he moved to Southern California a few years ago after getting a job at Mission Hospital, the cardiologist was determined to soak in the Orange County lifestyle by buying a surfboard and wetsuit.

Something, however, kept him out of the water: a fear of sharks. The doctor had heard about a shark attack at Corona del Mar a few years back, in the same waters he liked to train for triathlons, so he let his surf gear collect dust.

But as someone who fixes hearts for a living, he knows how fragile life can be – and it took one special surfing patient to give him the push he needed to follow his own heart.

“You can’t live in fear your whole life,” Bhojraj said on a recent day, still soaked from an evening surf session in Dana Point. “You have to just do this.”

A wave of miracles

Bob Kiefer doesn’t remember much about what happened that February morning last year at San Onofre State Beach – the spot he’s been surfing since the late ’70s when he left cold Minnesota behind for Southern California.

But he knew something was wrong as he sat in his car after a morning surf session at a spot called “Old Mans.” He had his first heart attack in 1996, and through the years has had heart issues that required several stints be placed to help his heart function.

Kiefer tried to call for help, but there was no cell reception at the remote, tucked-away beach south of San Clemente.

Longtime surfer friends Don Craig and Mick Rosien happened to stop at his car to say hello just at the right moment, realizing the fellow surfer was in desperate need of help.

Craig darted down the beach to a film crew that was shooting a segment not far from where Kiefer, who retired as a Orange County Sheriff’s Department special officer in 2008, was having a heart attack.

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