FORT WORTH - Dann Mostellar is one of those people you'd never guess would have a heart attack.
"I felt like I was pretty healthy," he said.
Just 45 years old, he's a fit and active fourth grade teacher at Joy James Elementary near Fort Worth. But back in August, just before the first day of school, he found himself in the fight of his life.
On a Sunday morning, his wife, Anna, found him.
"She heard me gasping for air and she's the one that called paramedics," Mostellar said.
She performed CPR, and paramedics used a defibrillator to restart his heart. They rushed him to Baylor Scott and White All Saints Medical Center-Fort Worth and into the care of Dr. Daud Ashai, an intensivist in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.
"When he came in the nurses were here with me," Dr. Ashai recalled. "And I told them, 'If he makes it, this is something big.'"
Ashai said a sudden cardiac arrest is often a death sentence. When they occur outside a hospital, just three to five percent of patients survive. Those that do survive often suffer significant brain damage.
"People become more in a vegetative state," Ashai said.
During the time that oxygen wasn't flowing through his veins, Mostellar's brain was already suffering. A CT scan showed brain swelling, and his medical team determined he was a candidate for a cutting-edge medical treatment to induce hypothermia.
To slow the brain damage, they used a device to rapidly cool his body temperature to 92 degrees. A probe was inserted directly into Mostellar's vein, and the machine circulated cold saline solution through a small balloon to bring his blood temperature down and keep it there.
"It saved his brain and he recovered from that," Ashai said.
Mostellar doesn't remember much from the ordeal, but he does recall waking up in his hospital room surrounded by family and his medical team.
"They were real excited that I could speak," he said.
Today, he's back at 98.6 degrees. He recently had a pacemaker put in, and after a few months of therapy, he's back teaching in his language arts classroom. It's an outcome that is a doctor's dream.
"It's unbelievable," Ashai said. "You don't get this kind of an outcome. Very, very rare. And to be back at work, that's remarkable."
© 2018 WFAA-TV