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Pitching in to Save a Life

FirstPitchPhoto-230pxBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Public Safety Officer Jim Laguerre took the mound at Fenway Park on Wednesday, September 6, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in recognition of his quick thinking to help save a patient’s life earlier this year. On the field, he reunited with former Massachusetts state highway administrator Tom Tinlin, whom Laguerre rushed to a doctor in late April when he arrived at the hospital suffering a brain aneurysm.

Jimmy expressed that he was thrilled to have the opportunity to throw out the first pitch, and equally excited to reconnect with Tom. “Tom is an amazing guy and has a great family,” said Laguerre. “He appreciates when someone does good by him.”

Tinlin was just as excited to see Laguerre. “It’s a little surreal being here with Jimmy in such a positive environment. He saw me when I was convinced I was dying. To be able to thank him now means more than you can put into words. I think we will always have a bond.”

The crowd cheered as Jimmy took the mound, soaked in the moment and delivered a strike to Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes.

Their story has a positive ending, but it could have been ended differently if it hadn’t been for some quick thinking on Laguerre’s part.

Tinlin had been emceeing a community fund-raiser back in April when his week-long headache suddenly took a turn for the worse. Tinlin’s wife, Heather, was with him that day. He told her he needed to go to the hospital, and at just past 4:30 on Sunday afternoon she rushed through back roads from Dorchester to the Longwood Medical Area to bring him to the emergency room at BIDMC.

Inside, officer Laguerre noticed the severity of Tinlin’s condition and hurried to help. Laguerre led Tinlin past the check in station, bypassed the waiting room, and brought him directly to a doctor to make sure he was seen as fast as possible. Tinlin had suffered a brain aneurysm and Laguerre’s quick thinking might have saved his life.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, an estimated six million people in the United States have an unruptured brain aneurysm. That’s one in every 50 Americans. Many of these will never rupture, but for those that do, about 40 percent are fatal.

Although the exact cause of a brain aneurysm is unclear, certain risk factors, such as high blood pressure and stress, can contribute to the condition.

After tests confirmed the diagnosis, Tinlin underwent surgery at BIDMC for an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. He’d had substantial bleeding in his head. But thanks to Jim Laguerre, Tinlin got the medical care he needed just in time.

Tinlin spent a total of 12 days in the hospital, including two days in BIDMC’s Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit. He credits his recovery to the quick thinking of Laguerre, the expertise of his Drs., Christopher Ogilvy and Ajith Thomas at BIDMC’s Brain Aneurysm Institute, and the compassion of the entire staff on Farr 6. 

For Tinlin, the experience was a wake-up call. It was an opportunity to reassess what was important in his life. He resigned from his role as state highway administrator to catch up on family time and help raise awareness about brain aneurysms so that others might be spared what he and his family went through.

September is National Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month. Learn more about brain aneurysms at BIDMC’s Brain Aneurysm Institute or the Brain Aneurysm Foundation.