Woman collapses during church, doctor and nurse in congregation revive her


MINERSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A true Christmas miracle. A woman collapses during church mass, loses her pulse, and says she’s saved by ‘angels.’

81-year-old Mary Walinsky says it started out just like any other day. But 10 minutes into Sunday mass, she started to feel hot and began fanning herself with a prayer card. 

“Next time I stood up I felt dizzy so I sat down, and put my head in my hands, and I just leaned over. That’s all I remember,” said Walinsky. 

She collapsed. A eucharistic minister, elevated at the front of the church, saw her faint, and signaled a doctor and two nurses in the congregation for help.

“We felt for a pulse. We couldn’t find one,” said Carol Demcher, RN. 

“At that point, it’s emergency mode, initiate CPR, call 911, and try to save her,” said Dr. Kimberly Hashin, MD. 

Dr. Hashin says Mary had a vasovagal response — that’s a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate, which left her without a pulse. Dr. Hashin says normally, it’s brief and people recover on their own, but not in mary’s case.

The mass went on as usual as they worked on reviving her in the back of the church. The priest didn’t panic, but instead turned to prayer.

“If we have our hearts in the right direction, and we trust in God, he will provide for us,” said Father Paul Makar, St. Nicholas church. 

CPR was working. Mary took a breath on the fifth compression and fluttered her eyes. 

“I looked up and I just saw faces around me. I knew them, otherwise I would have thought I was in heaven… It looked like angels,” said Walinsky. 

By the time the EMTs arrived, Mary was awake, but says she couldn’t remember what happened.

“Miracles happen around us all the time. We just have to know where to look for them,” said Makar. 

“You’re always on the clock. If you can help, you want to help. This was a good feeling,” said Hashin. 

Now, thanks to the immediate action, Mary gets to be here for another Christmas. 

“I look forward to every day. Every day is special,” said Walinsky. 

The team that revived her says they’re glad it happened at church, where she had immediate help. Adding that if it had happened at home,  the outcome could have been much different. 

Mary did stay at Lehigh Valley Health Network-Schuylkill overnight. That’s the same hospital where Dr. Hashin and nurse Demcher work. 

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