39°F
weather icon Clear

State Sen. Keith Pickard recovering from emergency heart procedure

Updated December 4, 2019 - 4:34 pm

Nevada state Sen. Keith Pickard, R-Henderson, is recovering this week after he collapsed at his home over the weekend and underwent an emergency surgery to insert a pacemaker, he told the Review-Journal in an interview Wednesday.

Pickard recalled feeling lightheaded as he attempted to help his wife and daughter make breakfast. He knew he would not make it to a chair, so he collapsed onto the floor.

His daughter, Lisa Light, who was in town from Utah for Thanksgiving, described in a Facebook post that her father stopped breathing for a short time and was unresponsive for about 15 seconds before regaining consciousness. Her mother took him to the hospital, where he eventually went into cardiac arrest.

“The room flooded with people,” Pickard said, recalling what his wife had told him. “A doctor jumped up on the bed and did chest compressions. They attached a defibrillator, but I don’t think they used it. It just worked like a second (heart) monitor.”

Pickard’s wife, Margaret, said she asked her husband if his life had flashed before his eyes as his heart stopped beating a second time.

“He said ‘no. I was just worried about you and if you would be lonely and what would happen to you.’ He was so thoughtful during that process,” she said.

Doctors identified an irregular heart rhythm and inserted a pacemaker. He was released from the hospital on Sunday. He had a light driving restriction placed on him for this week but is otherwise expected to fully recover, provided the pacemaker continues to work properly.

“I feel normal, if you can ever say you feel normal after knowing a doctor was on top of you giving you chest compressions,” Pickard said.

Shortly after his heart stopped, Margaret Pickard snapped a photo of Lisa huddled over Keith as he lay on a hospital bed with his eyes closed.

“I thought it might be the last time she ever saw her dad,” she said.

Pickard said this was actually the second time her husband’s heart had stopped this year.

During a legislative trip to Louisiana in January, Pickard briefly lost consciousness on the plane. Former Sen. Becky Harris and her husband took him to the emergency room, where his condition was incorrectly diagnosed as dehydration.

Pickard said his heart had regained its rhythm on its own, which is quite rare.

Despite his hospital stay, the senator briefly returned to his Henderson law office on Monday to wrap up some time-sensitive work.

“I get bored if I’m not doing something productive,” he said. “I am convinced I am here to continue to do something. I am here for a reason.”

Pickard said he has received well-wishes from community members and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including a call on Monday from Gov. Steve Sisolak.

Margaret Pickard returned to work on Wednesday, where her sympathetic coworkers helped her realize the gravity of what had occurred.

“It was hard for me because I realized what had happened,” she said. “We could have lost him. I was scared. But this is transitional for us. It made me more appreciative of our life — not that I wasn’t appreciative of it before.”

Pickard, who served one term in the state Assembly from 2016-2018, narrowly won election to the District 20 seat last year, defeating Democratic Julie Pazina by just 24 votes. His election denied the Democrats the seat they needed for a veto-proof majority in the Senate, which is currently divided 13-8.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Sanders talks mining, Medicare in Nevada

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was reunited with a Navy veteran who had been depressed to the point of suicide about medical bills, but who credited Sanders help with saving him.