MESA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - If you don't believe in miracles, this story might change your mind. A 58-year-old man collapsed at the finish line of a half-marathon in Phoenix. He had a massive heart attack, but one year later he ran the same race, and he's now thanking first responders who saved his life.
"I just really want to say thanks to all of you for all that you have done," said Joe Marquez.
Joe Marquez's heart is full of gratitude; that is because nearly a year ago his heart stopped beating.
"I understood I was clinically dead for 19 minutes," said Marquez.
In February of 2015 the seemingly healthy 58-year-old ran in a half marathon, he crossed the start line at 6:30 a.m. and the finish line around 2 hours later.
"All I remember is mile 7 of the race. I collapsed, they quickly got me into the tent and started doing life-saving procedures on me until the Mesa Fire and EMT came, I understand I was clinically dead for 19 minutes, they got me into the transport and got me to the hospital," said Marquez.
"What we did is we took a set of pictures of his arteries and heart, and he did have a very tight blockage, it was in the range of 99-100%, we were able to open up that blockage with a balloon and stint," said Dr. Josh Berwitz.
Doctors at Desert Banner Medical Center call him a miracle, fully crediting the staff that saved him.
"I would call it a great save, and everything worked well with the healthcare professionals and everyone around him," said Berwitz.
This week Marquez came back to the hospital to thank his heroes.
"We do this day in and day out, we see so many of these cases, and we have so many bad outcomes, but this one is why we do what we do," said one employee.
Marquez plans to run the same race which takes place next week in celebration of his recovery.