Saturday, September 25, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Honolulu police Chief Lee Donohue talks to reporters after being
released today from Queen's Hospital, where he was treated for a
heart problem suffered a week ago. With him were son Lee Jr.,
center background, wife Lucille and grandson Trey.

Police chief
Donohue released
from hospital

Chief Donohue collapsed after
a grappling exercise; he says he'll be
back to work within two weeks

By Jaymes K. Song


Police Chief Lee Donohue today was released from Queen's Hospital, a week after collapsing from a cardiac arrest caused by an irregular heart rhythm.

Donohue was smiling as he walked out of the hospital at 10 a.m. with wife Lucille, son Lee Jr. and grandson Trey Donohue.

"For me and my family, it's a day of thanksgiving," said the 57-year-old Donohue, dressed in shorts and a polo shirt. "I have so much to be thankful for."

He thanked his family, well-wishers and hospital doctors and staff.

The police chief said he will return to his duties within two weeks. Deputy Chief William Clark will continue assuming his duties until he returns.

Donohue, a black belt and instructor in karate, collapsed at the Waipahu police academy after participating in an arrest-and-control grappling exercise.

"It was pretty strenuous," he said. "I was exhausted. I was over shaking hands, sitting down, and then I collapsed. That's all I remember."

Donohue was taken to St. Francis-West Hospital in serious but stable condition. Officers said he was alert and communicating. Donohue said he had no prior warnings or symptoms before collapsing.

He was transferred to Queen's Hospital, where doctors conducted tests and a small defibrillator was surgically placed in his heart.

"He could go back to work today," said Dr. Raymond Hagaki.

Last week's heart difficulty was not Donohue's first.

He suffered a small heart attack about 15 years ago and was hospitalized for a week, Hagaki said.

Hagaki said Donohue this time suffered a "primary ventricular fibrillation," when the heart suddenly starts to quiver. The condition could be spurred by many things, including overexertion, the physician said.

"It is not predictable," he said. "It just starts to quiver. You lose circulation to the brain, and you collapse."

Tests showed the police chief did not have a heart attack or sustain any muscle or brain damage, Hagaki said. He added that Donohue is healthy and has been tested annually.

Doctors believe use of CPR and a portable defibrillator at the academy saved Donohue's life. Ironically, academy training on the life-saving defibrillator units was scheduled for Monday.

Donohue said he will slow down "a little" and watch what he eats. He said he will continue to teach karate and train.

"I think my days of competition in grappling are over," he said with a laugh. "I'll probably judge."

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