American Heart Month just became very real for two at Children's

Juan Pena, shown here with granddaughter Alyssa, received a Heartsaver Hero Award from the American Heart Association for his efforts.

From now on, American Heart Month will have an extra special meaning for two men whose paths crossed unexpectedly last week at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Juan Pena, a supervisor in the hospital’s Environmental Services Department, heard someone calling for help in the hallways behind the Children’s Cafe. Responding to the cries, he found a construction contractor lying on the floor, starting to turn blue. Once he established that the man wasn’t breathing, Pena’s CPR training kicked in. He instructed bystanders to call Security and initiate a Code Blue, then Pena himself started administering chest compressions. He continued until the hospital’s Code Team arrived to take over.

The man was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where doctors stabilized his condition. “Juan’s selfless and quick actions gave this man a fighting chance for survival and recovery,” says Jane Romano, RN, MS, the project manager for the hospital’s Resuscitation Quality program. “There’s no question—Juan saved a life that day.”

According to John Town, director of Environmental Services, Pena barely mentioned the incident upon returning to work. “After saving someone’s life, most of us would be in shock—we’d need to talk about it,” says Town. “Juan just went back to work, with an ‘Oh, by the way, I had to give someone CPR today.'”

Pena during the celebration of his lifesaving efforts.

Pena’s family and colleagues from Environmental Services gathered to honor the humble hero last Tuesday. In addition to receiving the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver Hero Award, Pena had an emotional meeting with the wife of the man he saved.

Pena, who carries his CPR certification card in his wallet, was ready to step in thanks to the CPR training he received at Children’s through the hospital’s Life Support Program—training he encourages all of his fellow employees to consider taking.

“It’s not just the doctors and nurses who need to know how to save lives,” says Pena. “I was able to help because I took CPR training, but what if I’m the one who needs help next time?”