SALT LAKE CITY — FOX 13's "Happy" Joe Wren is lucky to be alive after suffering a massive heart attack in September.
The FOX 13 News personality collapsed at an Ogden Park after playing pickle ball.
"I yelled out 'Call 9-1-1' and I hit the ground without even knowing it. It was that quick," Wren said.
Friends and fellow pickle ball players Rusty Jensen and Bob McFarland quickly administered CPR to a lifeless Wren. Soon, there were faint signs of life, and within minutes, paramedics arrived on scene and took over, rushing Wren to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.
"I was wheeled into an emergency room, totally frightened, I had no idea what I was there for," Wren said, recalling the confusion and panic that had set in. "The doctors were making sounds like they didn't think they could save me."
Wren's chances of survival were indeed very slim.
"The chances of survival and successful resuscitation from a cardiac arrest is pretty low. It's only around maybe five percent or so," said Dr. David Goff, the cardiothoracic surgeon who has since performed a quadruple bypass on Wren's heart.
Wren clearly benefited from friends who knew how to do CPR, and doctors with excellent training, but he also believes the power of prayer is why he's alive today.
"It wasn't necessarily a verbal sound, but the Spirit saying many, many dear souls are praying for you right now," said Wren, as he recalled the words of comfort that came to him while in the emergency room awaiting information about his condition.
Wren has since learned an untold number of friends and strangers offered prayers on his behalf, starting with people back at the pickle ball court.
Family members were also praying, and so were many members of a Facebook group called "Anaconda ~ Always!," which pays tribute to the town of Anaconda, Montana, where Wren grew up.
"There were hundreds and hundreds posting prayers online. Hundreds of 'em!" Wren said, adding "God hears every single prayer".
Although he survived his heart attack, Wren believes he was close enough to death to have had experienced just a bit of what awaits us all.
"I say do not fear death. It's gonna be wonderful. It doesn't matter if you're a sinner or not. It doesn't matter your religion, you're going to have a glory," Wren said, adding "God lives, Jesus Christ lives, and for some reason I had this great opportunity to feel that and the joy of that."
Wren said life going forward is even more meaningful, and that gratitude for others and opportunities to be of service are at the center of his thoughts.
"Every day is precious," Wren said.