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Video by Spencer Lee
Dr. Lacy Le recalls her first LA marathon in 2010 when she stopped running to help another runner in need.

Sports, La Marathon, Health, Ucla, Video, Fitness

Doc's 2nd LA Marathon After Performing Mid-Race in 1st

Dr. T. Lacy Le
Image from
Dr. T. Lacy Le

Runner Helped Save Another Runner's Life In Her First Marathon

Posted Mar. 19, 2011, 1:24 pm

Spencer Lee / Videographer

The purpose of CPR is to get oxygen to the brain. Dr. Lacy Le, a plastic surgeon, learned this in her residency at Stanford.

"We did three to four years of general surgery, which included trauma surgery," Dr. Le said.

According to her husband of five years, Kevin Lohner, the trauma training has become instinctual.

"I can't count on two hands the number of times she has instinctively stepped up to the situation and saved lives," Lohner said.

Dr. Lacy Le has helped a person on Montana Avenue who was hit by a car, someone needing assistance on an airplane and a drowned swimmer on the beaches in New Zealand (she was also a triathlete in college).

So it didn't surprise Lohner when his wife mentioned she took part in CPR on a runner who collapsed in the 2010 LA Marathon (except that she waited 20 minutes into the conversation after the marathon to bring it up).

"Right along 18 miles," Dr. Le said, "I saw a group of people. They were hovered over a gentleman, and the gentleman looked like he was down."

The gentleman was Jay Yim, a 21-year-old USC pre-med student who was running the LA Marathon, too. Dr. Le said she was told he had been unconscious for five minutes. Yim wasn't breathing and had no pulse.

Dr. Le started chest compressions while a police officer gave Yim mouth-to-mouth. They worked on Yim for 15 additional minutes before EMT's arrived on the scene.

"I thought he was gone," she said. "You look at the literature and you look at the experience, someone who has been down for that long isn't going to make it... That means you do not have any blood flow to your brain for 20 minutes."

Dr. Le said the chances of surviving that with brain damage are very low.

The chances of surviving without damage "... are nothing short of a miracle."

Jay Yim made the USC Dean's List in the fall of 2010, nine months after his cardiac arrest. He spent this spring break snowboarding in Arizona and will graduate in May.

Dr. Le and her husband will run their second LA Marathon together on Sunday.

Post a comment


Mar. 21, 2011, 6:05:36 am

Christin Kilmetz said...

What an inspirational story!

Mar. 21, 2011, 7:36:06 pm

Lucy said...

Wow, what a great story!

Mar. 23, 2011, 11:41:08 am

Kate Kaufman said...

I knew Dr. Le when she was a resident at Stanford... I was a nurse in the Trauma ICU. This story doesn't surprise me. She was fabulous then... and fabulous now. I am very proud to know her. Kate

Mar. 23, 2011, 12:06:14 pm

Ben Wang said...

Dr. Le is not only a great physician, but a competitive marathoner as well. Singular focus embodies what marathoning is all about and sometime it's easy to lose sight of others. It is heartwarming to see her give up on a achieving a personal best to help a someone really in need! Kudos to the doc!

Mar. 23, 2011, 12:44:46 pm

Kamalnath Iyer said...

I have known Dr. Lacy Le, since she was a little girl. She has participated in quite a few Triathlons, biking to Mt. Whitney and many more. She has always shown her strength, prowess and agility in many feats. It is a great memorable story.

Mar. 23, 2011, 12:52:23 pm

Gregg Adams, MD said...

Dr. Le, doing her Stanford Univesity Residency proud! Well done! I'll bet she made up the time lost off her pace too!

Mar. 23, 2011, 12:58:01 pm

June said...

Nicely written! It's a great story. It's comforting to know there are Good Samaritans among us.

Mar. 23, 2011, 1:58:06 pm

Todd Payne said...

This is fantastic! Bravo to Dr. Le for her fast action and quick thinking!

Mar. 23, 2011, 2:21:51 pm

Ban Hong said...

It's nice to hear about selfless people when most stories these days are about greed or depressing topics like austerity.

Mar. 23, 2011, 2:50:41 pm

Evelyn Wang said...

Dr. Le is truly an amazing person. We are so lucky to have people like her in our lives!

Mar. 23, 2011, 2:54:29 pm

Daren said...

This is an awesome story! The odds surviving after five minutes is so low.

Mar. 23, 2011, 4:05:38 pm

Debbie Kraemer said...

A great story about a beautiful, caring doctor. There should be more doctors like her!

Mar. 23, 2011, 5:22:02 pm

Daren said...

This is an awesome story! The odds surviving after five minutes is so low.

Mar. 23, 2011, 8:35:39 pm

Bob said...

Incredible! We're fortunate to have people like Dr. Le as a member of our community.

Mar. 23, 2011, 8:46:03 pm

ahnee said...

its good to know Dr. Le didn't give up and kept administering the CPR despite the odds. As runners we need to remember that a cardiac arrest can happen at any age! thanks for posting.

Mar. 23, 2011, 10:19:22 pm

Don said...

Reading this story was the highlight of my day. Why can't we have more stories like this?

Mar. 24, 2011, 5:32:28 am

Chris Wikkramatillake said...

Dr Le is an asset to any community. Wish you lived in my neighborhood.

Mar. 24, 2011, 7:52:12 am

Jimmy said...

This story warms my's great to know we still have caring people in this world!

Mar. 24, 2011, 9:42:46 am

Sue Lehoang said...

Great story! We are lucky to have somebody like Dr. Lacy Le in our Westside community.

Mar. 24, 2011, 3:04:09 pm

Elan said...

What a role model!

Mar. 24, 2011, 3:28:29 pm

Anita said...

You rock, Dr. Le! An inspiration to us all! Hope the marathon went well!!

Mar. 25, 2011, 7:11:33 am

Lisa Akselrad said...

Very inspiring story. Hope to read more about and from Dr. Le in the near future!

Mar. 25, 2011, 10:22:05 am

Jennifer August said...

I had surgery with Dr. Le and let me tell you, she is not only a fantastic surgeon, she is an awesome person. She did a wonderful job and was caring and patient. I would trust her with my Grandmother and would recommend her to anyone! -Jen

Mar. 25, 2011, 10:25:02 am

Siddo said...

Good story to cheer up the spirits and Im glad we have people like this in this world as they make life so much better.

Mar. 25, 2011, 10:48:40 am

Steve said...

Dr. Le has come a long way since we first became friends. Her charity and kindness to life, society and the public continues to grow even after all these years. Good on ya'!

Mar. 25, 2011, 11:02:47 am

Amy Coontz said...

I love to read stories of people helping because it's the right thing. When people see a situation, know they can help, and step up! I am sure it happens every day, but we only ever hear about the bad things people do. Thanks for sharing this.

Mar. 25, 2011, 11:17:18 am

Mervyn Cooper said...

What an amazing woman and what an inpirational story that reaffirms one's faith in the essential goodness of people, albeit what Dr. Thuy Le has done is nothing less than heroic. Run more stories like this!!! Merv Cooper

Mar. 25, 2011, 12:34:49 pm

pat lohner said...

Dr. Le is a most impressive knowledgeable person with compassion for everyone. She perseveres in the face of the most challenging to achieve success.

Mar. 25, 2011, 12:56:44 pm

Tim Neri said...

What a great story. Way to Thuy!

Mar. 25, 2011, 3:03:19 pm

Jane Carpenter said...

So thrilled and proud to have Dr. Le, her husband Kevin and adorable daughter, Marin as our neighbors. This revelation of her several heroic quick-thinking saves are in keeping with her lovely countenance. It has made me ponder the meaning of "neighbor" all over again.

Mar. 25, 2011, 4:08:46 pm

Lee said...

This is a great story. It's not surprising that Dr. Le got involved and was able to help - she's an incredible athlete, doctor and person.

Mar. 25, 2011, 6:43:33 pm

Dr. Baochi Nguyen said...

I know Dr. Le through her husband. I love every conversation i've had with her. She is a very inspiring person. I really like to read posting like this it's so inspiring and hoping for more of these to read in the future.

Mar. 26, 2011, 4:20:19 am

Judy said...

Great inspirational story. Dr. Le is one of the most generous and good hearted people that I know. Love to hear more stories similar to this.

Mar. 26, 2011, 12:05:30 pm

Rob C said...

Wow, interesting story!

Mar. 26, 2011, 12:12:16 pm

Kat T said...

Dr. Le is an inspiration to us all!

Mar. 26, 2011, 2:44:25 pm

Janet said...

What an inspiring role model for kids today! As a high school teacher I wish we had more women leaders for kids to read about. She proves that a woman can be intelligent, beautiful, assertive, compassionate and athletic!

Mar. 26, 2011, 8:40:01 pm

kasper said...

Way to go!

Mar. 27, 2011, 8:46:54 am

Mariessa said...

Wow! She used her talents to aid others in desperate times of need. So many would have just selfishly continued the race worried about thier time or just stayed away from the situation. Dr. Le, however, gives us great inspiration to help when the time comes. Imagine if we all followed in her footsteps and used our skills to bring our fellow human beings aid or simply some joy. Would love to hear more detail on her many other saves as well. Awesome!

Mar. 28, 2011, 4:19:34 am

Jason Merrick, MD said...

Wow, this is an incredible story. I don't even know Dr. Le but as a marathoner, I know that I spend months, if not years, training and preparing for a specific race. We all go into the race with a time goal; so for Dr. Le to take more than 20 minutes out of her marathon to help someone in need is truly a selfless deed. As a physician, I know how physically demanding it is to do CPR. Doing it in a controlled setting in a hospital is tough enough but to do it in the middle of a marathon on the road without any other assistance is truly amazing! Kudos to you! I don't know that many others would have stopped in this situation.

Mar. 29, 2011, 11:17:16 am

pat lohner said...

I enjoyed this article very much and was glad to know that what Dr. Le had done last year was published in your paper. She is a remarkable doctor and is always ready to help others.

Apr. 5, 2011, 9:48:09 am

Michelle said...

I love this story about rising to the occasion and having the talent and character to make a difference. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

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