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Off-duty NYPD lifesavers reunite with bowling alley heart attack survivor

Roy Spiro (red hat) stands with his NYPD and cardiac surgery lifesavers at Staten Island University Hospital.
Roy Spiro (red hat) stands with his NYPD and cardiac surgery lifesavers at Staten Island University Hospital.

Off-duty officers provide CPR, use AED to revive 65-year-old

STATEN ISLAND, NY —

It was just like any given Sunday for 65-year-old Roy Spiro. On October 13, he was bowling at his favorite spot, Rab’s Country Lanes on Staten Island.

A bowling mainstay since he was a 12-year-old, Spiro is no stranger to the pressures of the 10th frame. “I needed a strike to win the game, Spiro explained. I got up there; my heart was pumping real fast. I threw the ball and saw the pins start to go down.”

As the pins fell, so did Spiro. He may have clinched the game with a strike, but now was clenching his chest. He was in the throes of a heart attack, with no pulse and collapsing on the lane.

Just as he collapsed three off-duty NYPD officers bowling nearby jumped into action and began CPR. Officers John Desiderio, Giovanni Cucuzza and Joseph Glorioso immediately began chest compressions and located the bowling alley’s Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and shocked Spiro back. The dramatic scene was all captured on the bowling alley’s security cameras.

Officer John Desiderio recalled, “He [Spiro] was having a hard time breathing, his face was turning blue. Obviously our training kicked in and we did what we had to do.”

“As police officers, we’re never really off-duty. We signed up for this job to help people,” Officer Cucuzza said.

Cardiac team: in a league of their own

EMS responders transported Spiro to Staten Island University Hospital’s (SIUH) Heart Institute for treatment.

“Mr. Spiro was in cardiogenic shock when he arrived, Dr. Wissam Hoyek, an interventional cardiologist at the hospital explained. “We brought him immediately to the cardiac catheterization lab where we found he had multiple blockages, more than we can stent. He needed open heart surgery.”

Dr. Hoyek implanted a balloon pump into Spiro’s heart to increase blood flow to the body. Spiro stabilized and underwent cardiac bypass surgery by Dr. Frank Rosell, a cardiothoracic surgeon at SIUH who replaced six arteries in his heart.

Today, October 29, Spiro is on the mend and had an emotional reunion with the men who gave him a second chance at life. Spiro and the three officers reunited at SIUH along with the hospital’s cardiac team who say without the officers’ actions, Spiro may not have survived.

“We were beneficiaries of the work done by the team of officers who got him to us very quickly, said Dr. Roselle. “I think they deserve all the credit for the outcome that we have. Mr. Spiro has no neurologic damage, his heart is recovering. This is a result of fast action,” he added.

Officer Glorioso said Spiro, “definitely looks better today, we’re happy to see that. We’re hoping to see him back at the bowling alley before the end of the year.”

“Why am I alive?” Spiro questioned. “It could have happened in so many places. Everything is so ironic. Three police officers from my old neighborhood precinct in Brooklyn saved my life [on Staten Island].”

The officers presented Spiro with a T-shirt from the 61st Precinct to wear on his first day back at the lanes. Spiro added, “I’ll wear this proudly.”