Bride's mother suffers fatal heart attack during rehearsal dinne - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Bride's mother suffers fatal heart attack during rehearsal dinner

Barbara Wininger Barbara Wininger
The night before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner, Dustye's world collapsed. The night before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner, Dustye's world collapsed.
Dustye McCallon Dustye McCallon
Dustye with her mother, Barbara Dustye with her mother, Barbara

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Throughout the day you likely have a lot running through your mind, such as what to make for dinner, the laundry that needs to be done, what you will do this weekend. But you probably don't give much thought to your heart. That might change after you hear about this Kentuckiana woman.

Dustye McCallon's mother planned her entire wedding reception since she was still in college.  There were so many details that were a huge surprise to her. But the night before the wedding, at the rehearsal dinner, Dustye's world collapsed.

She heard someone scream and saw her mother face down on the floor.

"When I rolled her over her eyes were open, but I knew immediately something was gravely wrong," Dustye said. "She wasn't responding and she was convulsing."

Dustye and her maid of honor were both studying to be x-ray technicians so they both knew how to perform CPR, but they had never done it on a real person before. Compressions have to be hard.

"I knew I can't do that. I can't do that to my own mom. So someone stepped in and did compressions and that's when it hit me that this is the my mom. This is surreal," said Dustye.

The ambulance took Dustye's mother Barbara Wininger to the hospital, but nothing could be done. The woman Dustye spoke to twice a day, every day, had died.

Dustye made the difficult decision to go ahead with the wedding. She said faith made that possible. Plus, Dustye said her mother would be "mad at her if she didn't go through with it and see what she had planned for me as a surprise."

There were surprises. The miniature cheesecakes in different flavors. A coffee bar. A gorgeous chocolate wedding cake.

Barbara had a huge heart, but one that wasn't healthy. It was a massive heart attack and stroke that took her life at just 46-years old.

For Dustye, this was a wake-up call to take care of her own heart. She exercises, sees a cardiologist and listens to her body.

"I think as women we have that inner voice sometimes that tells us we are overreacting. If we lay down it will be better," Dustye said. "That inner voice is our worst demon really."

Dustye wants her heart to be healthy, so she can be there for her three girls on their wedding day.

Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Friday, February 7, is National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease.       

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