August 3, 2023 | Our Patients

STARS Lottery supporter wins dream home, then a second chance at life

a composite image of STAR VIP/STARS Lottery Home winner Neil Lunn and his wife Mona, a rendering of the house they won and a STARS helicopter in the background

Neil Lunn thought he was lucky when, in 2014, he won the grand prize in STARS LOTTERY a $1.3 million home. Nearly a decade later, our crews saved his life. 

When Lunn and his wife Mona Cardinal learned they had won the dream home they could hardly believe it. 

“When they phoned to tell me we had won, they asked if I was going to keep buying tickets, and I said ‘Yes, because someday I might need you,’” said Lunn. 

And he did. 

On Jan. 26, 2023, Neil suffered a cardiac issue at his rural home. He was transported from the local hospital to a cath lab in the city by STARS. It’s because of the care he received from his paramedic, nurse and physician while enroute to hospital, that he’s still here today. 

The STARS team was able to place an external pacemaker that would keep Lunn alive if he became unstable during the flight. That temporary procedure, coupled with the support of a physician on board, made the crew feel confident he could withstand the transport. 

Midflight, STARS flight paramedic Greg Barton noticed Lunn sitting up and chuckling to himself, seemingly taking in the experience. It was at that point Lunn informed the crew that he had won the dream home nine years earlier and now was in awe of how life had come full circle. 

“He took an interest in supporting our organization years ago and had the good fortune of winning the dream home, and now he’s lying on our stretcher with a critical issue,” said Barton. “It was a surreal moment; I was happy to be able to help him.” 

Barton added that this kind of encounter was a first for him in his more than 20 years as a flight paramedic. 

Upon arriving at hospital, Lunn’s condition suddenly worsened. “As we were transferring him to the hospital bed his heart stopped. We were able to electrically pace him,” said Barton. 

The STARS team kept him alive with medical equipment, while the team at the receiving hospital inserted a central line and pacemaker directly into his heart. 

The external pacemaker that STARS had placed prior to departure turned out to be integral to Lunn’s survival that day. 

Now back at his home, Neil is recovering and returning to his normal activity. When asked if the couple would continue supporting STARS LOTTERY, Cardinal responded, “We get our tickets as soon as we can; that’s one thing we’ll always do.” 

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