A piano prodigy escapes death — twice — thanks to expert cardiac care

Victor Glazer, heart patient, Delray Medical Center, Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital

Victor Glazer had a lifelong passion for music. A prodigy, he got a scholarship at age 9 to Julliard’s Pre-College Division, and he’s composed for renowned singers like Debbie Reynolds and Frankie Avalon. He seemed unstoppable — until a heart attack did just that.

“I was told the only reason I survived the heart attack was because of my age—I was 44 at the time,” he says.

After undergoing a quintuple bypass, Victor recovered. He resumed his career as a music director, and his heart remained healthy for a long time.

Twenty-two years later, he had another close call.

He was at home in Delray Beach when he suddenly had difficulty breathing. His wife called 9-1-1 and Victor was rushed to Delray Medical Center.

He went into cardiac arrest, and his heart stopped beating for a total of 13 minutes — one of the longest flatlines in Delray history.

“The emergency room physician, Dr. David Sterm, and his staff worked hard to save me but thought it was very unlikely that I would survive,” Victor says.

After five shocks, the monitor continued to show no sign of life. A nurse was about to call time of death when the medical team decided to shock Victor one last time. The flatline on the monitor began to spike.

“Unbelievably, I came back to life,” he says.

A miraculous recovery

Victor and his wife consider it a miracle that the Delray ER team was able to get his heart beating again that day.

“But it would be an even bigger miracle if I came out of it without any brain damage,” he says. “They put me in a coma for about a week, and I was in the ICU when the doctor woke me up. I couldn’t talk because there was a tube down my throat, so when the doctor asked me what I did for a living, I wiggled my fingers in the air as if I was playing the piano. It wasn’t until that moment that everyone, including me, knew I was going to be okay.”

Victor was deeply thankful just to be alive, but he quickly realized he had a long road of recovery ahead. He spent a total of 24 days in Delray’s care, including a week of rehabilitation to learn to walk again.

“I came to outpatient therapy at Pinecrest Rehabilitation Hospital three days a week for two months,” he says. “I couldn’t have asked for better treatment and care. All of the therapists who worked with me were fantastic, especially Kathy Koffman, my head therapist. I never worked harder in my life to get back to being self-sufficient, and the quick results reflected that.”

Victor says he owes his life to the entire medical team—from the paramedics who performed aggressive CPR to the ER staff who refused to give up to the therapists who coached him to recovery.

“Now I’m able to walk, exercise and do everyday things,” Victor says. “Most importantly of all, my fingers can continue to dance across the keys of my piano.”