It appears that true love really does conquer all. In the case of Joseph Leifkin, even death. Leifkin, 90 years old at the time of the incident, said he still had too much to live for to die in the back of an ambulance. Though he had his doubts at times about whether he was going to make it or not.
One night in December last year, Leifkin woke up in a hot sweat; his clothes were drenched and he knew something bad was happening.
“I said to my wife, ‘I think I’m in trouble,'” Leifkin told ABC7 News. He was having a heart attack.
Leifkin’s wife, Marjorie, called 911 and paramedics were at their house in New Jersey in a matter of minutes.
When paramedics arrived, Leifkin immediately told them that he couldn’t die because he had a date scheduled with his wife.
“I didn’t even have the chance to introduce myself and he said ‘Don’t let me go, don’t let me die,'” said paramedic Kevin Duffy to the New York ABC affiliate.
While Leifkin was in the back of the ambulance, he told the paramedics that his 91st birthday was coming up. He had plans to eat at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with his wife, and couldn’t die because he didn’t want to miss their date.
Moments later, he died.
Leifkin stopped breathing and had no pulse for 10 minutes. Paramedics performed CPR while en route to the hospital.
Despite his insistence that he wasn’t ready to pass over, Leifkin thought his time had come.
“I thought I was ready to check out, I really did,” he said.
Though it looked hopeless, the paramedics did all they could to bring Leifkin back. They continued performing chest compressions and forcing air into his lungs.
Then, suddenly, miraculously, Leifkin started breathing again. His heart started beating, and his vitals started to stabilize. He was still in need of urgent medical attention, but he was back from the brink. He proved he really wasn’t ready to go.
On his 91st birthday, Leifkin was able to keep his date with his wife. But first, he wanted to thank the medics that saved his life.
“Are those my saviors? God I love you! I love you so much, you made me have another life,” Joseph said as the trio of paramedics entered the room.
He gives all of them a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Still too weak to stand without the use of a cane, he instead leans forward in his armchair.
“Thanks to you, I’m still here. If it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be here,” Leifkin said.
It’s meaningful on a personal level to the paramedics, too.
“A lot of us would love to have our dads back for a holiday, so we are glad his family has him,” said paramedic Corrine Flammer.
“I love my wife so much and she loves me. I can’t leave her,” Leifkin said. “I’m not ready to go, I have more to do.”