UCLA doctor's bike ride takes a life-saving turn

Dr. Stephanie Brenman and Giovanni Valente

Saving a life was the last thing Dr. Stephanie Brenman, a fourth-year emergency medicine resident, expected to do as she rode on the last leg of a seven-day charity bike event. That, however, is exactly what happened.

“Our group was riding in Malibu when we noticed a man who was still on his bike, tipped over into a bush,” she recalled. “We went over to check on him and found him breathing on his own, but completely unresponsive. We quickly called 911.”

That man was Giovanni Valente, who had been out for his weekly bike ride before he collapsed.

“I no longer have any memories from the time immediately before or after the bike ride," Valente said. "The last thing I remember is celebrating my son’s high school graduation the night before. I took a selfie halfway through the ride and sent it to my girlfriend, Breena, letting her know I was on my way back home. Forty minutes later, Stephanie found me in the bushes after I had suffered a heart attack.”

Dr. Brenman assessed Valente while someone from her bike group called 911. When his breathing became irregular and she couldn’t detect a pulse, she immediately began CPR.

“I conducted chest compressions for about a minute before the Malibu life squad arrived,” she said. “They took over and continued life-saving measures. After 20 minutes, he was taken to UCLA Health - Santa Monica Medical Center.”

Dr. Brenman continued to track Valente’s progress over the next few days, and once he was stable, she introduced herself to Valente and his family.

“We were ecstatic when Stephanie walked into my room,” said Valente. “We connected in a second. She is part of my extended family now. I’m looking forward to seeing her at dinners and barbecues, and maybe going to Italy together one day.”

“That bike ride was a surreal experience,” Dr. Brenman recalled. “It was the first time I helped someone as a bystander, and it underscores the value of knowing CPR. It can help save someone’s life.”

Valente and his family say they are eternally grateful for Dr. Brenman’s life-saving aid, and for the subsequent care he received at UCLA. “I have nothing but great things to say about UCLA,” he said. “Every single person I met approached me with a smile and a genuine desire to help. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been given a second chance — and all thanks to the hard work and talent of everyone here.”

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