Heart And Soul

By: Lorne Chan Spurs.com

In the fourth quarter, the doctor called a Code Blue.

Donna Tomlinson’s heart stopped, and Methodist Stone Oak Hospital doctors and nurses worked to revive her.

She was out for a few minutes after the heart attack, until she heard the doctor say to stop compressions as she regained consciousness in the Intensive Care Unit.  Tomlinson looked at all the relieved hospital staffers and had one simple question:

“Did the Spurs win?”

Tomlinson, 69, was in the hospital for an infection and was watching the Spurs in bed when she suffered a heart attack. When she came to, unaware of the work that went on to save her, the Spurs were the only thing on her mind. It was truly an act of a die-hard fan.

“Everybody was laughing and I didn’t get it,” Tomlinson said. “I didn’t know I had a heart attack, so all I was wondering was what was so funny and why they weren’t telling me what happened in the game.”

Tomlinson said she never saw a light, only Spurs highlights.

She couldn’t remember what day she had the heart attack, but she knew the Spurs were playing the Nuggets. It was Feb. 4, and yes, the Spurs won.

Tomlinson, a music teacher at Clarity Child Guidance Center, moved to San Antonio more than 30 years ago. She said she became a Spurs fan almost as soon as she arrived, when she realized how the entire city was obsessed with the team.

She remembers running into Artis Gilmore at a racquetball court in the mid-1980s and being so starstruck that she couldn’t say anything when she shook his hand.

That was the first time the Spurs made her heart skip a beat.

“There is such a joy in the city for the Spurs and they do so much for San Antonio,” Tomlinson said. “I love them because they’re gentlemen on the court and off the court.”

She said she watches most of the Spurs games whenever they’re on TV. At Methodist Hospitals, a partner of Spurs Sports & Entertainment that serves thousands of San Antonians every day, Tomlinson earned the title of the hospital’s biggest Spurs fan.

For a few days following the heart attack, doctors and nurses streamed through Tomlinson’s room, retelling the story of the moment she woke up and sharing in their Spurs fandom.

Doctors installed a defibrillator in Tomlinson’s chest, which will help her get through any close games. She is currently recovering and back to watching Spurs games.

“I have a bunch of heart strengthening exercises I’m doing every day,” she said. “I have to be ready for playoffs.”

Have a Spurs Story to tell? Email Lorne Chan at lchan@attcenter.com