John Swanson Story

The 2009 PGA Championship ended with one of the greatest upsets in golf history. But for PGA spectator John Swanson, the event brought him an even sweeter ending—a second chance at life. “I am here today because of the life-saving services of Ridgeview Medical Center and its talented medical staff. I’m grateful for that."
John Swanson Story

While Y.E. Yang and other PGA Championship contenders were fighting for the leader board at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, I surprisingly faced a challenge of my own—an out of control heartbeat, not sure whether to hold on or let go.

I collapsed on a walkway near the first fairway. My colleagues said I looked lifeless. I don’t remember much except for the bright sun in my face. Dr. David Larson, a Ridgeview emergency physician on site, however, vividly remembers everything.

From quickly stabilizing me at the scene to attentive care in the ambulance, he said he was pulling for me. He was grateful my faint pulse didn’t stop—relieved I had been at the right place at the right time for sure.

And he was right. I wasn’t supposed to be at the PGA that day. If it hadn’t been for a ticket mix-up, I would have been at the wrong place at the wrong time: in a hotel room working alone on a business presentation.

Thankfully, I made it to Ridgeview Medical Center alive. When I became coherent in the emergency room, I’ll never forget the words from Ridgeview staff as I formally met Dr. Larson: “Let me introduce you to the man who saved your life.” For a man surrounded by a caring family of three children and a wife, those words couldn’t have meant more. The handshake with Dr. Larson meant everything.

My stay at Ridgeview’s Cardiac/Intensive Care Unit left a lasting impression: amazing emergency staff, life-saving technology and compassionate support staff so focused on me. I was eventually transported to Abbott Northwestern Hospital for further tests. Turns out my heart has a rhythm issue. I underwent surgery for a defibrillator implant to keep my heartbeat on track. So far so good! My 90-day check-up was uplifting.

Since that haunting day at the PGA Championship, I’ve celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, sent my daughter off to college and visited the man who saved my life. Dr. Larson and I shared some heartfelt moments and solidified a connection. He’s a friend for life.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for everyone. My family and I are grateful it wasn’t my time—but even more grateful I had immediate access to highly trained physicians and emergency care. For a resident from Mahtomedi, Minn., nearly 50 miles away from Waconia, the connection couldn’t be stronger.

I encourage you to support one of the most significant community assets in the west metro: Ridgeview saves lives. You never know when you’ll be the patient with a lifethreatening situation. Your gift does make a difference.

Thank you, Ridgeview, from the bottom of my heart (which, by the way, is beating steady and strong)!