One Jamestown woman is back to her three-mile walks after six days in a coma and cardiac arrest – a feat she attributes to Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

Daphne Vainonen and her husband, Dan, walk three miles nearly every day to stay fit. Both retired teachers, they vary their routes between outside and inside, depending on the weather. The couple is mindful of their nutrition too, as doctors diagnosed Daphne with late-onset Type I diabetes in 2009.

That is why her cardiac arrest in September of 2018 was so surprising.



The morning started out ordinarily enough. The couple was two miles into the three-mile walk when Daphne collapsed in the northwest part of town, near Anne Carlsen Center.

“I heard her say ‘Dan…’ and then she fell flat on the sidewalk and hit her head,” Dan said. “She was absolutely lifeless.”

Dan began chest compressions while a passerby called 911. Within minutes, a police officer arrived with an automatic external defibrillator (AED).

Soon, Jamestown Ambulance also arrived to transport her to JRMC where Emergency Physician Dr. Kent Diehl and his team were waiting.

Surviving a cardiac arrest is rare – even in the best of circumstances, people only have a 10 to 15 percent chance of living. Even those who do survive often notice changes in vision, taste and behavior.

With a few minor exceptions, Daphne said she has experienced nothing like that.

“JRMC made decisions quickly and responsibly,” Dan said. “The care was extraordinary.”

Dr. Diehl stabilized Daphne and offered comfort to Dan.

“It was a scary situation,” Dr. Diehl said. “The nurses here are awesome. It was a team approach.”

With Dan’s approval, JRMC transferred Daphne to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. She remained in Fargo hospitals for about three weeks until she returned home in October.


Even though she was home, her work was not over. At home, the rehabilitation began.

Daphne worked with Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Manager Madey Ranum to strengthen her heart and Speech Therapist Lauren Burningham to improve her memory, word-finding and other cognitive-communication skills.

Both individuals provided great care, the couple agreed. Every day, Daphne improved.

“This facility is really amazing for our size of town,” Dan said.

Today, the Vainonens are back to their regular walks. They are also planning trips out of state and even out of the country.

“The Lord is with us and he provided,” Daphne said.