PHILADELPHIA - The man known for putting the Philadelphia food scene on the map suffered a massive heart attack, but was saved by the actions of a quick-thinking neighbor.
Chef Georges Perrier, 74, underwent emergency triple bypass on Wednesday.
Perrier collapsed while getting out of a car in front of his Center City apartment. But, to his good fortune, Dr. Nancy Petersmeyer, a psychiatrist, was coming out of her building to walk her poodle.
She saw the commotion surrounding Perrier, who was lying on the sidewalk.
"I laid him out flat. I tried to find his pulse, there was no pulse, and started chest compression - so CPR - and just kept at that," Petersmeyer said.
He had no pulse, so she administered CPR for perhaps 10 minutes.
Suddenly she got a pulse, just as medics were arriving.
"He went from looking gray and sunken, too - I could see color starting to come back to his eyes," Petersmeyer said. "So it was enough to get his heart kicking back in."
Perrier, a native of Lyon, France, came to Philadelphia back in 1967, when there were only a few posh restaurants in town.
Three years later he opened Le Bec-Fin, and the rest is history.
Perrier's work and reputation kicked off the ongoing growth of fine dining in the city. That continues even after his retirement.
Dr. Petersmeyer says this event shows just how important it is for as many as possible to learn CPR.
"We crossed over to death and came back, and that's a pretty gruesome - frankly a pretty gruesome - experience," she said. "To see him come back, I have to say I was amazed more than anything else."
Perrier's daughter said her father is doing well after surgery and his doctors are extremely optimistic.
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