Thanks to Medical Teams, Withers Is Doing Well After Heart Procedures at Manatee Memorial Hospital

May 4, 2023

Ernie Withers and his medical teamWhen Ernie Withers, 68, attended the Manatee Chamber of Commerce event at Pirate’s City, Roberto Clemente Field, on February 21, 2023, he had no idea his life was going to flash before his eyes. A retired auto industry executive and former Chamber chairman, he was on the field throwing balls as part of the event when he went into cardiac arrest. “I had no symptoms prior, no warning,” said Ernie. “I had no pulse for the two to three minutes I was down.”

Thanks to the quick response by Pittsburgh Pirates Medical Director Dr. Patrick DeMeo – who performed CPR and applied the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – and care he received at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Ernie is here to tell his story. He was rushed into the cardiac catheterization lab where Cardiologist Jeffrey Rossi, MD, placed four stents to open up his blocked arteries, and Cardiologist Jared Collins, DO, implanted a dual pacemaker/defibrillator.

“My care at the hospital was unbelievable. The entire staff kept me informed on every detail,” explains Ernie, who was in the hospital for three days. “Dr. Teresa Rawe and her staff were so attentive and comforting. The shift changes went so smoothly.”

Life After Receiving Treatment

Just one week after his cardiac episode, Ernie was invited to throw out the first ball at the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training game. “I was honored by the gesture and was so happy to be able to thank Dr. DeMeo and his staff for helping to save my life. I also thanked the players and coaches for their prayers while I laid on the ground lifeless.”

Ernie was also invited to sit in Mayor Gene Brown’s box during the game. A few days later, Mayor Brown reached out to Ernie to let him know that because of his story he went to the doctor, had a stress test and had four stents placed in his heart.

Ernie’s daughter Lisa Heath, who has been a nurse at Manatee for the past 18 years, said her dad received the best care, which she was able to witness first-hand. “I am so proud of the medical professionals I get to call co-workers who provided care to my dad and treated him like family. Familiar faces gave me an extra layer of confidence and reassurance that he was in good hands.”

Ernie is back to playing golf and has resumed normal activities. He and his wife also got certified in CPR. “My story is amazing, how everyone was in the right place at the right time. I think it was a miracle.”

Get a Wellness Screening

A wellness screening can save your life. The screening, which takes about 30 minutes, can be scheduled at the Manatee Diagnostic Center by calling 941-747-3034 or visiting