Man survives 40 minutes without a heartbeat. He’s now telling his story and thanking those who saved him.

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DEAD FOR 40 MINUTES: Can you survive if your heart stops beating for 40 minutes? According Chief Tan, who is the Chief of emergency medical services for New Castle County, yes, it is possible, in fact, he says they have worked on patients longer who have survived. Meet the one man who survived after 40 minutes without a heartbeat and lived to tell his story.

Can you imagine being dead for 40 minutes? The question of how long someone’s heart would have to be stopped before you can safely say that regardless of what you do, you’re not going to be able to revive them is a very tricky question. It’s not as simple as saying after 10 or even 20 minutes there’s no hope. For instance, there are countless people who have been subject to hypothermia, have their heart stopped for over 45 minutes, and still have been successfully revived. So many, in fact, that the current guideline set by the American Heart Association (AHA) is that you continue trying to revive the person until their core body temperature is above 95 degrees Fahrenheit- 95 degrees, because below that is the technical definition of hypothermia. The mantra in that situation is, “They’re not dead until they’re warm and dead.”

On Monday evening, Delaware Newsline had the chance to meet one man who survived 40 minutes without a heartbeat and he not only lived to tell his story, but also thanked the first responders who helped saved his life.

Chief Tan speaks at a press conference at New Castle County Department of Public Safety Headquarters on Monday September 15, 2019 (Photo: George Shea | For Delaware Newsline)

We take you back to Wednesday April 17, 2019, when 60-year old Donald Quashine collapsed in his family’s bathroom. He was found by a family member who called 9-1-1. It was around 9:30 Pm. The 9-1-1 center determined that Donald was not breathing and may be in cardiac arrest, and dispatched units from the Christiana Fire Company and New Castle County Paramedics. The 9-1-1 center also notified any available police officers that might be in the area.

It was two minutes later that MC David Cole with the New Castle County Police arrived and found Donald face down on the bathroom floor. He moved Donald to a position where he could be rolled over and began CPR. Four minutes later, units from Christiana Fire Company and New Castle County Paramedics arrived to take over.

According to Chief Tan, “The firefighters and EMT’s took over CPR while the County paramedics initiated advanced life support procedures for the patient. The patient received an initial defibrillation while an infusion was established in the patient’s right leg to administer medications. The firefighters, EMT’s and paramedics continued their efforts, which included rotation of providers performing CPR every two minutes, administration of several medications, and multiple defibrillation attempts over a period of approximately 40 minutes. After 8 defibrillations, the on-scene personnel were able to restore the patient’s pulses.”

Donald Quashne speaks to the press at New Castle County Department of Public Safety Headquarters on Monday September 15, 2019 (Photo: George Shea | For Delaware Newsline)

“Mr. Quashne remained unresponsive, although [he]exhibited some intermittent breathing effort. An intravenous line was established in his right arm, and procedures to cool the patient’s body with application of ice packs and administration of chilled intravenous fluids was initiated to stabilize the patient. He was transported to the Christiana Hospital Emergency Department.” Tan said.

“Gentlemen. Thank you. Because of you, I am standing here right now. I am speaking and continuing my life.”, Donald said speaking from the podium at the New Castle County Department of Public Safety Headquarters.


  • Is it possible to survive 40 minutes without a heartbeat?
  • Cardiac arrest victim lives to tell his story and thank the ones who saved him.
  • Reunion ceremony held at NCC public safety headquarters near New Castle Monday.

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Delaware Newsline is a digital Delaware News Organization that provides local and national breaking news content to its Delaware and U.S. audience, by utilizing multiple platforms including web, social media, and video.

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