For All of Our Hearts: How One Local Woman is Fighting for the Hearts of Bay Area

Indira Feaustal and her father Dr. Vijay Bhatnager

Indira Feaustal and her father Dr. Vijay Bhatnager

Nearly twenty years ago, Indira Feustel was playing in a tennis match when she noticed another tennis player in the next court collapse.

“I thought someone had twisted their ankle but he never got up,” said Feustel. “It was a big tournament so you would think someone would have started CPR and then I realized it was going to be me.”

Feustel had just renewed her CPR certification and was able to perform bystander CPR, with the assistance of a nurse, until help arrived.

The passion to help others continued to stick with Feustel throughout her life. In 1997, Feustel walked in her first American Heart Association Heart Walk.

In 2000, heart disease hit close to home when Feustel’s father, Dr. Vijay Bhatnager, suffered a heart attack.

“My brother, Samir, a police officer, was picking up my parents after a dinner when my dad collapsed,” said Feustel. “My brother started performing CPR. A doctor near by helped, so they did two person CPR for twenty minutes before the ambulance came.”

If it had not been for her brother, the doctor’s CPR efforts and medical and technological advances supported by the American Heart Association, her father would not have survived.

In 2012, the American Heart Association was instrumental in helping the State of Texas pass a new law that will require all high school students to graduate with at least one CPR certification course. This year’s incoming seniors will be the first class required to complete this certification.

“I would love to see that expanded to all citizens so someday everyone will have the comfort of knowing that if you are in an emergency situation requiring CPR, there will be someone that could help you”, said Feustel.

Across the country, the bystander rate, which is the amount of people who can perform bystander CPR is at 40 percent. In the Houston area, that rate is 32 percent.

Through her work as a speech-language pathologist, Feustel says she is inspired by her patients with heart disease or who have suffered strokes. The memory of the collapsed tennis player, her patients, her father and CPR education, are reasons Feustel is driven to continue to raise money for the AHA.

Over the past 17 years, Feustel has used her passion to raise over $100,000 for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. In 2014, Feustel raised over $18,500 and this year she is striving to raise $20,000.

The Bay Area Heart Walk is set for Saturday, Nov. 14, at Kemah Boardwalk from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. To sign up for the Heart Walk or to donate to Feustel’s personal goal, visit www.bayareaheartwalk.org

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