For the second time in three years, a man who believes a defibrillator arrived too late to help his own son has used the device to save a life.
Dr. Craig Levine, an oral surgeon from Merrick, was at a bar mitzvah at the Seawane Country Club in Hewlett last Saturday when he saw his friend Lew Goldman, the host of the event, passed out on the dance floor. With the help of an automated external defibrillator, Levine revived Goldman.
"I immediately knew that he was in cardiac arrest, and I yelled out for someone to get an AED," said Levine, who has campaigned to make defibrillators more readily available. "I unfortunately have been through experiences like this."
In 2005, Levine's son Robbie, 9, died on a Little League ballfield in Merrick. A policeman responding to the scene brought an AED, but it was too late.
In Levine's Bay Shore office in April 2007, he saw a patient waiting for a dental consultation collapse from a heart attack.
Levine brought out an AED and saved her life.
The coincidence of saving a patient and a friend from the tragedy that rocked his family leaves Levine humbled, he said.
"All these things that happen make me think of my son," Levine said. "I couldn't save my son, but I saved the lives of two people and spared their families."
Goldman collapsed during his twin sons' bar mitzvah.
"I don't know what to make of it, why this keeps happening," Levine said Friday, shaking his head ruefully.
"The real story is the AED saved my life," Goldman said Friday from his Merrick home, where he was recovering. "Craig Levine is a hero."
Goldman, 53, who works on Wall Street, turned out to have 95 percent blockage of one of his arteries and had to have stents put in.
"The fact that Craig was there and they had an AED at the Seawane Country Club, and that it happened that night, I'm one lucky man," Goldman said.
"I could have gone home and gone to bed and never woken up. Somehow through the unbelievable misfortune of the Levines, their son has a way of touching people's lives," he said.
After their son's death, Levine, 44, and his wife, Jill, 40, launched Forever 9-The Robbie Levine Foundation to provide youth sports leagues with AEDs.
Jill Levine said she will continue advocating for AEDs to be present not only at sports fields, but at catering halls and other event spaces where people might overexert themselves.
"Ideally I'd like to have it mandatory," she said. "Unfortunately, there are many Robbies."
An AED donated by the foundation to the Baymen Soccer Club in Sayville was used to help a 40-year-old man who passed out during soccer practice in May 2009, she said.
Her husband is gaining a reputation as some kind of angel, Jill Levine said.
"I have friends who tell me they want to hang out with only me now all the time," he said with a laugh.