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Moncton, N.B. runner finishes Montreal 5K with doctor who saved his life

Moncton runner Stéphane Demers returned to Montreal Rock 'n' Roll race weekend and finished the 5K one year after collapsing at the 2015 event (photo: Joel Neves Briard/Fondation Jacques-de Champlain).

Stéphane Demers

One year after suffering cardiac arrest near the half-marathon finish line as part of the 2015 Marathon Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll de Montreal, Stéphane Demers ran the event’s 5K last Sunday with the doctor he credits with helping save his life.

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Fifty metres before finishing the half-marathon in 2015, the Moncton, N.B. resident collapsed and was without a pulse for almost eight minutes. Paramedics at the finish line helped revive Demers, who, according to the race’s medical director, was considered “clinically dead,” with CPR, cardiac massage and a defibrillator. The Globe and Mail reported that Demers required a quintuple bypass because of atherosclerosis, a disease where plaque builds up in the arteries.

Demers does not recall the events that took place near the end of the 2015 Montreal half-marathon. He said he was feeling “great” the day of the race in 2015 before collapsing near the finish and being rushed to the medical tent and then on to the hospital.

The Montreal Rock ‘n’ Roll medical director, Dr. François de Champlain, told Demers in May 2016 that he would join the New Brunswick runner if he was to return to run again in September. Demers was up for the challenge and opted for the 5K as he was back running as part of his rehab. But only if de Champlain ran with a defibrillator.

De Champlain carried the defibrillator in a backpack to show its portability and to help raise awareness about the technology. The doctor started a foundation, Fondation Jacques-de Champlain, in honour of his father, dedicated to “improving resuscitation care and advancing medical research in the cardiovascular field in the province of Quebec.”

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At the finish line of last Sunday’s 5K, race organizers and medical personnel were waiting to congratulate Demers and presented him with two race medals. One was for the 5K. The second was the half-marathon race medal from his 2015 race. The first paramedic to perform CPR on Demers in 2015 when he suffered cardiac arrest presented him with the 2015 medal.