Portable Defibrillator, Knowledgeable Friends Credited With Saving Man's Life

Doctors say Nelson Wu was saved by quick-thinking teammates and a portable defibrillator

Nelson Wu of Mission Viejo has a very good reason to encourage the placement and use of portable defibrillators: he is alive because the device was in the right place and he was with the right people who knew how to use it.

Wu died twice last Father’s Day after playing league basketball at the Bolsa Grande High School gym.

“Right after I passed out, that’s when I flat-lined,” Wu said, adding that this meant he was essentially dead.

Wu had felt a little winded when he sat down on the basketball court and glanced over at a teammate before everything went dark.

Although he was tall and physically fit, the 37-year-old father suffered a massive heart attack due to high cholesterol and nearly 100 percent artery blockage.

“We all sat stunned, you know, what happened?” said teammate Norm Nakawaki, one of three teammates who sprang into action.

They grabbed the portable defibrillator, attached it to Nelson Wu’s chest and went to work.


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“At that point, we knew he didn’t have a heartbeat anymore,” Nakawaki said.

Doctors later said the quick thinking of Nakawaki, Jodi Matsumoto and Jordan Hamamoto saved Nelson’s life, but the drama was not yet over.

They had revived him by the time paramedics arrived at the gym, but then he “died” again in the ambulance and was again brought back to life.

Doctors installed a stent to clear Nelson’s arteries and put him on blood thinners.

Now, Nelson Wu said he’s thankful to be with his family and very happy to have made new friends.

“It’s difficult to put into words,” he said. “What to say to somebody who saves you and gives you a second chance at life?”

“I was just happy that Nelson’s alive, healthy and back with his daughter,” Nakawaki said.

Nelson said he plans to return to the basketball court as soon as doctors give him the OK.

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