WAUKEE, Iowa — Don Roese will never listen to "Sweet Caroline" the same way again.
The 83-year-old man doesn't remember requesting the Neil Diamond song around 11:30 p.m. Friday at Kenny's Pub in Waukee. Nor does he recall hitting the ground, unconscious, just moments into a dance with his daughter-in-law.
Patrons who helped saved his life said the band barely made it past the first few bars before everything shifted from leisure and laughs to panic and emergency CPR.
Roese experienced a severe heart attack that doctors at Mercy Medical Center later determined was caused by 100 percent blockages in two major coronary arteries.
"He should not even be here. Less than 1 percent of people survive that type of incident," Clive Assistant Fire Chief Tony Collins said.
Collins led a group of pub patrons who performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Collins was celebrating his 53rd birthday with friends when the heart attack occurred.
He immediately began performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while four others checked vital signs and performed chest compressions.
Steve Roese of Johnston shouted words of encouragement to his unresponsive father.
"He kept saying, 'Fight, Dad. Keep fighting,'" Collins said.
The harrowing scene continued for several minutes without signs of hope.
"He had no pulse and no respiratory effort whatsoever. ... He was dead for almost 15 minutes," Collins said.
Then suddenly a pulse returned, respiration began, and Don Roese began grabbing at his face with his hands.
He was conscious by the time he was rolled out the door on a gurney and into the ambulance.
The pub erupted with applause.
"I couldn't even believe it," Collins said.
Perhaps the greatest sense of fulfillment came after the weekend when Roese demanded to know the name of the man who helped save his life. He reached Collins by phone.
The two men met in a hospital recovery room at Mercy on Tuesday.
"You saved my life celebrating your birthday," Roese told Collins.
He said the two men now share a birthday and a day of rebirth.
Roese is walking, talking and laughing. He feels good except for minor restricted breathing and a sensitive chest due to the compressions performed by his rescuers.
He was scheduled for triple bypass heart surgery Wednesday.
"Years ago, if you had a heart attack, that was it. You were gone," Roese said, with a new appreciation for modern medicine and medical professionals like Collins, who he considers a hero.
"I was so fortunate that Tony was there."
After nearly 35 years in the emergency medical field, Collins said, it's special and unique to reunite with a patient he helped save.
"Typically you slam those ambulance doors, it drives away and you wonder what happens," Collins said.
"It just made my day like you wouldn't believe that I got to talk to him after."