It all started on a dock at the Pacific Ocean. While shadowing paramedics, a 19-year-old college student was administering CPR — trying to save a life for the very first time — when her life’s purpose came into view.
Lorrel Toft, M.D., FACC, went on to graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California, Irvine. She then completed medical school at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Toft remained at Johns Hopkins for her internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship, earning numerous awards for her clinical and educational performance, including most outstanding graduate.
In total, Toft trained for 11 years at Johns Hopkins to become a cardiovascular critical care physician. While there, she was selected as assistant chief of service, which included chief resident responsibilities such as training first-year residents and running the busy Osler Internal Medicine hospital service.
“My role model and mentor at Johns Hopkins was Dr. Steve Schulman. He had an almost magical quality of arriving as soon as a patient needed CPR. Watching him direct resuscitation efforts was inspiring to me. I thought ‘if I can spend my career doing anything, it would be to teach people how to be as good as Dr. Schulman during a cardiac arrest situation.’”
Since her first time administering CPR on a dock, Toft has performed and directed CPR for hundreds of patients, has been part of miraculous saves — including a woman who received CPR for 60 minutes and walked out of the hospital 100% neurologically intact — and hears stories of lives saved as a result of her CPR trainings.
“When cardiac arrest occurs outside of a hospital setting, survival rates range from 2% to 15%. I grew frustrated with this situation because bystander CPR can double or even triple survival. My research career was born out of these experiences.”
– Dr. Lorrel Toft