North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 28, 2012

Fultondale man is wife's 'Christmas miracle'

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

FULTONDALE — A Fultondale woman received her Christmas gift on Dec. 2 — the gift of her life. And the best part is, it came through an act from her husband.

Deborah Dodd Dollar was in her recliner at home when she began to feel sick. Her heart started racing, she felt nauseated and she broke out into a sweat.

She thought she was getting a virus; she decided to take an aspirin and lie down in bed. Dollar called out to her husband, Stephen E. Dollar Sr., and asked him to bring her a wet towel.

He walked into the room and realized his wife had other symptoms: Her back was hurting in the center, she had lost the feeling in her left arm, she had shortness of breath, and her chest was hurting.

“I told her she wasn’t sick; she was having a heart attack,” Stephen said.

He immediately put her onto the floor, and “that’s when the attack really hit,” he said. “She turned real red and then blue, and she quit breathing.”

Stephen thanks God first, and then his employer, Alabama Power, for requiring him to learn CPR. He has taken the CPR course annually for the 39 years he has worked there.

“They taught us CPR and how to recognize a heart attack,” he said. “She had all the symptoms.”

He gave Deborah two “quick puffs” of air, and she started breathing again. He did not have to start compressions, even though she almost lost consciousness two more times. He called his father, who lives a few doors down, who raced to the house with his sister. His father called an ambulance.

Deborah said she learned later that she had lost consciousness and her husband had likely saved her life.

“They told me that if it hadn’t been for him, I probably wouldn’t have made it,” she said with tears in her eyes. “He’s my Christmas miracle. I want everybody to know he’s my hero.”

Stephen is shy about being called a hero.

“There’s nothing special about me,” he said. “I’m just an average person. (CPR) is just something everybody needs to know. It made a difference.”

The Dollars have been married eight years. The way they met was a storybook beginning; she had a flat tire and he pulled over to help.

For two months, they had telephone conversations. A year later they were married.

“It was destiny that we met,” Deborah said.