Norman Regional Health System

Thursday, September 16, 2021

There are times in life where we experience a combination of circumstances that seem to feel like they are more than just a coincidence. While we cannot fully explain these experiences, we can call them miracles. The evening of April 17, 2021 is when Christopher, or “kit,” Fennell, a Broken Arrow native, began to experience his own set of what you could call once-in-a-lifetime miracles.

What happened?

Just coming off a business trip, Kit met with his family for dinner at a local Norman restaurant and upon leaving to the parking lot, he began to suffer a cardiac arrest, lung collapse and a seizure simultaneously. He had fallen onto the concrete with the impact forceful enough to rip his jeans at the knee, yet his head landed safely on a grassy knoll. His son immediately began to initiate CPR as an off-duty paramedic happened to be on the scene and assisted. His wife called 911 at the same time and the EMTs arrived in just under three minutes.  After shocking his heart 3 times, Kit was then transported to the Norman Regional HealthPlex, where he began to undergo his treatment.

“I was in the ICU for 10 days, the first five of which, I was completely unresponsive. My wife literally thought she would be taking care of me for the rest of my life in that unresponsive state,” Kit said. “I started to improve on the night of the fifth day in the ICU and after two more weeks in the hospital, I was flown to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta for rehab for my brain injury due to lack of oxygen during my event. When we arrived at the Shepherd Center they told my wife I would be there for 10 weeks and I left in two-and-a-half weeks. They then checked me into their Pathways outpatient program and they told me I’d be there for six to eight weeks, but I left in just over three weeks.”  Kit returned home from this ordeal on June 19, just 2 months after the event!

The road to recovery

At this point, Kit has experienced a significant ordeal and has no recollection of anything past when he landed back in Oklahoma from his business trip until roughly May 7- 8. Despite this, the external influences surrounding him throughout the process all weighed heavily in his favor. He avoided a potential concussion due to his head landing in grass, his son knew and started CPR, and an off-duty paramedic just happened to be at the scene. EMTs arrived in under three minutes and his recovery time was a fraction of what it was expected to be.

The best part, Kit has essentially made a total recovery as of Sept. 3, 2021. He struggles with some word recall, but that’s the extent of his lingering symptoms from experiencing cardiac arrest, a seizure, a collapsed lung and an anoxic brain injury.

“God put breadcrumbs all along the path to lead me to my recovery. I did not do anything; this is not a story about me. This is a story about God and how he works in the world today,” Kit said. “There is no way this is coincidence. What I have learned from this process is that we all receive blessings every day and we do a very poor job of looking for them, recognizing them, showing appreciation for them and sharing them with others. We have to get better about that. We all need to become Blessing Ambassadors.”

Kit is back to work and is resuming life as usual with his family, but has a new outlook on life as a whole after a humbling and extraordinary journey the past few months. Kit is set to have a reunion with the providers who helped him through his treatment including Intensivist Amy Bacchus, MD; ER Physician Julianna Bizzell, DO; Neurologist Brett Dees, MD; Neurosurgeon Stephen Eichert, DO; Cardiologist Archana Gautam, MD; ER Physician Brittany McShane, DO; Neuro Hospitalist Lane Tinsley, MD, and Cardiothoracic Surgeon Kyle Toal, MD. He holds out hope that he will also meet the many nurses, PTs, technicians, etc. that assisted in this recovery. He wants people to hear his story in hopes that the audience will look for and spread their positive blessings throughout their communities.