Heart and Vascular

Putnam Hospital cardiac rehab patient reunites with lifesavers

John Covais, cardiac arrest patient at Putnam Hospital with Danielle and Antonio Arzaga, who saved his life


When John Covais called to make an appointment to start cardiac rehab at Putnam Hospital, he recognized the voice on the other end. 

“Danielle, is that you,” he asked. 

Turned out it was receptionist/aide Danielle Arzaga, whose husband, Antonio Arzaga, a radiology tech at Putnam Hospital, saved Covais’ life.

It was April 3, 2019, when Covais and the Arzagas’ were at league night at a Carmel bowling alley, competing against each other.

“It was my tenth frame, and I threw a strike. I then felt lightheaded and went to sit down,” Covais recalled. “The next thing I know I woke up and I was in the hospital.”

Covais suffered a cardiac arrest that night and it was Antonio Arzaga who performed CPR and other life-saving measures while Danielle held Covais’ head in her lap. 

“You went blue twice. You were a smurf,” Antonio Arzaga explained to him. “But I said, ‘not tonight."

That night, Covais was sent to Putnam Hospital and transferred to Vassar Brothers Medical Center where he had a defibrillator installed. 

Learn more about electrophysiology at Nuvance Health. 

Covais and the Arzagas’ recently reunited at Putnam Hospital after four years, reliving the terrifying ordeal. 

“Thank God you were there. You saved my life,” Covais said to Antonio Arzaga. “Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Everybody said you were fantastic.”

Covais now attends rehab at Putnam Hospital for other cardiac issues. He turns 70 in October and plans to travel to Aruba and hopefully, he said, bowl once again. 

“It’s a great continuation of the story,” said Cardiac Rehab Coordinator Cathy Ahern. “Not everybody gets to be reunited after an event like that.”