Man suffers near-fatal heart attack, tells first responders he wants to take wife to dinner one last time

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DENVILLE, N.J. – A 91-year-old New Jersey man had only one thing on his mind when he suffered a heart attack a few months ago.

Joe Leifken wanted to take his wife, Margie, to dinner one last time—to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, to be exact.

The staff at St. Clare’s Hospital in Denville, N.J., will never forget the encounter.

“First thing he said was, ‘Don’t let me die,’” Kevin Duffy told CBS News.

“He said that to me, too. He said all he wanted to do was take his wife out to Ruth’s Chris for dinner,” said Sarah Crelin.

Those may have very well been Joe’s last words if not for the dedicated efforts of the staff. He was gone for just 10 minutes before medics restarted his heart. When he came back to, he shouted, “Ruth’s Chris!”

The medics couldn’t believe it. Joe’s mind was clearly fixated on taking his wife out to dinner, even while he was at death’s door.

Joe took Margie to dinner at Ruth’s Chris after his brush with death. The meal was on the house.

Margie said Joe’s second chance at life has only made their relationship stronger.

“We’re just closer, if that’s possible,” Margie said.

“Oh, yeah. She’s one in a million” Joe said. “I can still make her swoon. You want to see it?”

And, of course, the two young lovers share some unforgettable banter.

“She’s got six men…” Joe started.

“No, don’t say that! Please don’t say that, you’re on the air!” Margie pleaded.

“And they’re all waiting for me to check out,” Joe said.

“You shouldn’t say that,” Margie said.

“You’ve got so many guys that love you,” Joe said.

“You’re on the air!” Margie said, trying to cover Joe’s mouth.

“Well, he’s going to cut this all out,” Joe said.

This story originally appeared on CBS Evening News - On the Road with Steve Hartman

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