Midmar Mile miracle survivor, paramedics share their testimonies

Hennie Muller in hospital on the day of his near drowning and heart attack.
Hennie Muller in hospital on the day of his near drowning and heart attack.

Bloemfontein Christian marketplace leader, Hennie Muller, 59, who narrowly escaped drowning in this year’s Midmar Mile, and survived a heart attack after the swimming race, says the experience was his eighth near-death encounter.

Muller, who is the Free State coordinator of Unashamedly Ethical, says his life has been under great attack but God’s protection has been greater, confirming that He has a greater life purpose for him and his wife.

Hans Hartman, a veteran paramedic who attended to Muller during the Midmar drama says he is astounded by the chain of critically timed events that contributed to his survival and rapid recovery, after an artery burst in his heart when he was in the water 30m from the finish line, and he collapsed with a heart attack three minutes later. In an sms sent afterwards, Hartman says: “I have been doing this for 30 years, and have never performed CPR on a patient for 20 minutes, shocked him, and been speaking to him 20 min later. Always several days in a coma and some brain damage….he has been blessed with a second chance. Please tell him to make the most of it. Hans Hartman.” He too concludes that God has bigger plans for Muller. Hartman is not a stranger to divine intervention: he was in charge of medical services at the 2009 Mighty Men Conference when Angus Buchan had a heart attack after preaching, recovered miraculously, and preached again the next day.

Mark Basson, a paramedic who competed in the Midmar Mile swim, finishing four minutes after Muller, was one of the skilled medical people who was on the spot at exactly the right time to play a vital role in his resuscitation. He says “with great teamwork the truly impossible was achieved. I wish Hennie well with his second chance at life.”.

Close calls
In a written testimony, Muller says previous close calls on his life have involved a car accident, a microlight incident, a light aircraft accident, a fourwheeler accident, a motorcycle crash, a horse hoof that missed his brain by about an inch and a cobra strike that just scratched his skin.

He thanks his wife, Marieta and his friends and colleagues in a number of business and Christian organisations who were alerted via social media and prayed for him when he collapsed at the Midmar Dam.

“God allows miracles to happen, to strengthen believers’ faith in God and to bring non-believers closer to Him,” he says.

He says the Midmar experience has just made him more focused on a vision from God for him and his wife to travel around the world for seven to 10 years, sharing testimonies and collecting more testimonies for a book “on our living and wonderful creator God who gave His one and only son Jesus Christ so, we can live eternally, after our bodies cease to live”.

Writing about the day’s events, Muller says: “About 100 meters from [the] finish line, I decided to push hard to the end, feeling good. About 30 meters from [the] finish, I remember looking up, and then right there I lost temporary consciousness, while swimming. According to medical feedback, this is where my LAN vein in [my] heart would have ruptured due to over exertion. That caused less blood and oxygen to [my] brain.

Hennie Muller (right) exiting the race finish area moments before his heart attack.
Hennie Muller (right) exiting the race finish area moments before his heart attack.

“With zero recollection I completed the swim, lost some skin on [my] left leg when I apparently swam into [a] concrete boat ramp, where the finish was. I stood up and walked like a zombie through [the] finish line, with [my]best time yet of just 1 second short of 44 minutes. I remember some flashes, when being directed into the most left lane to hand in my name tag, not remembering collecting my medal and hanging it around my neck. Then some more blank moments until I remember collecting two Quelle cooldrinks and just after walking into the spectators’ area, I lost all consciousness. This is where my heart stopped.

“According to my calculations, the 30 meter swim took about 90 seconds and the walk of about 75 meters would have taken about another 90 seconds. That gives approx. 3 minutes from vein rapture to heart failure.

Nearly another drowning statistic
“This is the danger in swimming, if my vein busted about 60-90 seconds earlier, I would have been another drowning statistic. It is not like running or cycling; you simply disappear out of sight into murky waters, not seen by anyone.”

Continuing his account, Muller says in “perfect Kairos timing” a medical doctor and nurse were next to him when he collpased. They turned him into the right recovery position and then two highly qualified paramedics arrived and did perfect CPR.

Basson picks up on the unfolding drama after he completed his own swim and then saw the collapsed Muller.

“Without hesitation I jumped in and continued with CPR. I began issuing instructions to the event paramedics who had also arrived for them to attach the ECG leads and to establish an IV. I also asked if the appropriate drugs could be drawn up ready if needed.

“Our ‘team’ continued with CPR, our patient was now tuning a light shade of blue, not a good sign, minutes were ticking by as no oxygen was reaching his brain. The electrodes would not stick to the gentleman’s chest, and we needed to check if there was a heart rhythm. We tried to dry his chest but they still would not stick, I then called for a paddle reading to be done.

“The paddle check revealed a shockable heart rhythm; CPR was continued while special gel was applied to the paddles. Then the shock was delivered and we checked for a heartbeat and pulse. Amazingly we had managed to get a heartbeat and weak pulse back.

“We loaded the gentleman and I decided to stay with him to the hospital. En route to the hospital the gentleman stabilized more and opened his eyes, and then I asked him his name. He responded with Hennie Muller. I was truly amazed!

Absolutely amazing!
“Hennie was handed over to the hospital in a stable condition, awake and talking. In my 10 years in the EMS industry and having performed many, many resuscitations, never ever has a person responded or recovered so quickly post CPR, without any form of brain or heart damage. Absolutely amazing!”

Hartman who was providing medical services at the event says it was critical that when Basson began with CPR, he applied the latest American Heart Foundation.

“This new way of doing CPR is based on extensive research, and has proven to be the most effective way of doing CPR,” he says in a testimony he wrote for Muller.

Hartman’s testimony continues:”My medic then reported back over the radio ‘CPR IN PROGRESS’, words that you never want to hear over a radio at any event. I grabbed my heart monitor and Advanced Life Support jump bag, and ran to the exit point, through the crowds. I suppose I should apologise to them for shouting at them to move out the way!!!

“I arrived at the exit point at the same time as the ambulance, and managed to push a space open around the patient’s feet. The crowed parted a little, and created a circle around us, shielding the public at large by holding their towels together and creating a curtain for us to work behind. My first task was to check for a heart-beat, or any other cardiac activity. We do this by holding the shocking paddles against the patient’s chest, and taking a reading through the paddles.The ECG screen showed no activity at all, and I instructed them to carry on with CPR. I set up a drip, ready to attach to the IV needle ‎that my medic was battling to get up on your arm. We need this access point to administer the drugs that will assist in getting the heart started again. At the same time, oxygen was being pumped into you via a bag-valve-mask, that forces 100%oxygen into your lungs. The new protocols require 2 breaths every 2 minutes, compared to 1 after every 5 compressions. During a break in CPR to ventilate the lungs, I checked for heart activity again, which showed that we had Ventricular Fibrillation, a condition where the heard looks like a bowel of jelly, just wobbling, not beating. This is good, because it means there is electrical activity, just not coordinated. The crew carried on with CPR whilst I charged up the Defibrillator and applied gel to the paddles. I administered a single electrical shock, which resulted in everything coming to a complete stop on the heart, before a single heart beat happened. This was followed by another one about 10 seconds later. This was not sufficient to maintain life, and I turned to draw up drugs to increase the heartbeat. Again, before that could be administered, the pulse shot up to 120, with a palpable pulse. You were still not breathing at this stage, and I decided to insert a tube down your throat and into your trachea to enable us to administer oxygen easier. Before this could even be attempted, you started gagging on the airway, and I realised that you would not tolerate the tube. We loaded you onto a board (in preparation to start CPR again), and into our ambulance. The medic that had started CPR also climbed into the ambulance, and we rushed off to Medi-clinic Howick. By the time we reached the gates of Midmar dam, you started moaning and groaning, and within 5 minutes started talking to us. At Medi-clinic you were able to give us your name and telephone number, but no other details. You were still confused, and would ask the same questions again and again.

“A second ambulance from Pietermaritzburg arrived within 20 minutes, and left within 15 minutes to transfer you to St Anns hospital in Pietermaritzburg‎.

Everything just fell into place
“So, this is the story of how everything just fell into place at exactly the right place and time, to bring back a patient that 12 months ago would not have had a chance to live. I have been doing this job since 1983, and have lost count of the number of patients I have done CPR on. This is the first time ever that I have had a patient without a heartbeat for 20 minutes that comes back with no drugs being administered and TALKS TO ME within 15 minutes after being shocked. I believe that there is a bigger purpose in your life, and that you have not yet achieved what was planned for your life. You are blessed, and God has a bigger purpose for you. He will reveal what he wants from you, just ask.

“I have learnt a long time ago, not to ask why, because our plans and ideas are not God’s plans or ideas. His plans are all that count.

“Mr Muller, I trust that you believe that a miracle was at work here. ‎20 meters or 10 minutes earlier, and we would have been waiting for another body to surface. Without the team of medics and medical staff at your side at the time they arrived, you would have been dead. Without the medics ALL knowing the new CPR protocol, you would have been dead (or severely brain damaged).”

Picking up on his experience after he was admitted to hospital, Muller says:”After heart test, the rupture in a vein was found; a stent was placed in the vein. Intensive scans were done on the heart and brain. All tests, in my possession, showed NO PROBLEMS found.

“After 3 nights I left ICU ward, one more night’s sleep in high care ward, I stood up on Wednesday morning, the 12th of Feb 2013, had a good shower. After seeing a delighted, smiling Doctor Maharaj, he let me go home, not even 4 full days visiting them.

“I WANT TO THANK ALL THE PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH MY RESCUE ACTION SINCERELY FOR A NEW LIFE. Mostly all honour goes to God Almighty, for His grace with these miracles.

“The only side effects are that my back and chest remain sore, where the great CPR was done on. But my memory has surely improved, I can remember better now, than before.”

3 Comments

  1. We serve a powerful and mighty God. I have survived an overdose where I was clinically dead for 1 minute, woke up and walked out the hospital, At 10 I was thrown off a horse and ened up missiling head first onto a wooden pole from which i only recieved a severe headache, I was taken at gunpoint by three guys whi were intent of raping me not only did God give me a peace and calmness beyond all understanding which enabled me to take control of the situation by guiding my speech and avoid being raped but ended up with the guys driving me back into town to drop me off. As we entered town the car mysteriously broke down and at the exact moment an ambulance stopped that had decided at the last minute to deviate from their origional route to take another which led to me. Within second the whole police force was there. I have survived a car accident where a BMW going around 100 jumped a robot and slammed into my side of the car I walked away with a superficial cut on my head and a bruise on my arm. These are only a few experiences where God has stepped in and taken control and this when I was not even saved yet. God definatly has a plan and purpose for our lives and his mercy and grace has no limitations. I love him so, so much. he carries me thorough al my trials and tribulations even when I don’t deserve it. He is such an awesome , loving , protective God.

  2. Ons dien n God wat gister , vandag e more dieselfde is. God gaan ons vooruit. En wanneer ons in gehoorsaamheid leef, sal ons altyd God sese Beskerming he. Dankie, dankie, dankie Jesus !

  3. Truly awe inspiring. I was also involved in a write off smash 7 yrs ago and came out of it with a sore thumb but where my passenger was killed. Although I had been a nominal Christian for a number of years I walked out of the hospital with a spirit that was infinitely stronger having needed no trauma counselling and with a purpose that was not evident in me previously. I know that this all happened through the power of Christ. Praise God!