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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — It was just weeks before Christmas and 22-year-old Justin Repshas was cramming for final exams. He needed to let off a little steam so he went for a run. His feet pounded the streets of downtown Charleston. He felt good.
But that's the last thing he remembers.
"The next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital after being in a medically induced coma for two days," said Repshas.
Justin's girlfriend Jocelyn Bradley was frantic. She had dropped him off at his apartment around 4 p.m. They were supposed to meet at the library to study. He hadn't returned her texts or calls. It was now nearly 8 p.m.
"I just had this weird gut feeling. I just can't sit here anymore. I can't even concentrate," said Bradley.
She called his friends. They broke into his apartment. Inside they found his keys, wallet and phone. His running shoes though were gone. Maybe he had been hit by a car. They called local hospitals, but still no sign of Justin.
So they called Charleston police. The responding officer had heard something about a young man collapsing on the street earlier in the day, but he kept it to himself. Instead he took Justin's identification and headed to the hospital alone.
"Turns out because he went running without identification, he was a John Doe," said Jocelyn. "He was in the intensive care unit."
The officer took Jocelyn to the hospital, along with Justin's sister, to make sure it was him. It was.
"It's kind of a moment you'll never forget. His sister and I just hugged each other. I think we were all in shock."
So what happened to Justin?
"I went out for a run and collapsed," said Justin.
He later learned his heart had stopped.
"A nursing student at MUSC actually stopped and performed CPR on me and a cardiologist happened by the scene as well," he said.
The nursing student and doctor most likely saved his life. Justin, it turns out, has a rare heart condition. It's only found in roughly one in a million people. He never knew it.
"I didn't know what to think. I was in complete shock even for a couple of months," said Justin. "I couldn't believe something like that happened to me," he said.
The 22-year-old had always been athletic. Now he has defibrillator in his chest.
"I just feel like the luckiest person alive just to be here," he said.
Justin now volunteers his time with the American Heart Association. He says their research efforts have helped people like them overcome heart defects. He also knows first hand the importance of CPR.
"It teaches you how precious life is and how quickly you can lose it," he said.
If you'd like to learn more about the American Heart Association just got to www.heart.org.
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