Heroic Nurse Saves Passenger from Heart Attack at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Heroic Nurse Saves Passenger from Heart Attack at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

On the morning of June 7, while waiting for her flight to Knoxville, Tennessee, Claire noticed Ken Jeffries, a fellow passenger, showing alarming signs.

Jeffries, 57, exhibited symptoms that Claire recognized as a possible heart attack.

Claire, experienced in her field, recalled previous instances where similar symptoms indicated a heart attack.

“Just the way you were snoring and breathing sounded like you were having a heart attack,” she later told Jeffries during a Zoom reunion.

According to the University of Arizona’s Sarver Heart Center, more than half of cardiac arrest patients gasp, snore, or breathe laboriously, often misleading bystanders.

Thankfully, Claire’s expertise meant she knew exactly what to do.

Claire quickly sprang into action, enlisting help from nearby travelers.

Together, they performed chest compressions and used a defibrillator. “We put the pads on him,” Claire explained.

“It indicated a shockable rhythm, and it shocked him in between while we were doing compressions.”

After 10 intense minutes of CPR, Jeffries regained a pulse.

He began breathing on his own, and Claire and the others stayed with him until paramedics arrived.

Later, during a Zoom call, a grateful Jeffries expressed his deep appreciation to Claire.

“A ‘thank you’ is not enough, Claire,” he said emotionally. “I am so appreciative and indebted to you.”

Reflecting on the Experience

Claire, who previously worked at Atrium Health’s Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, was moved by Jeffries’ gratitude.

“I’m very glad that I was there that day to help you out.

I’d obviously do it again in a heartbeat,” she responded. “I’m so happy to see that you’re doing so well.”

Life-Saving Surgery

On the day of his heart attack, Jeffries was taken to Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, where cardiologist Dr. William Downey performed life-saving surgery.

Downey emphasized that without Claire and the other passengers’ quick actions, Jeffries would not have survived.

The Importance of Awareness

Jeffries had no prior symptoms of a heart attack, underscoring the importance of recognizing and responding to such emergencies.

Dr. Downey advised that heart attacks can be prevented by quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and managing blood pressure and cholesterol.

A Reward for Heroism

As a token of appreciation for her heroic act, Claire was upgraded to first class by American Airlines.

This small gesture was a fitting reward for her life-saving intervention on that fateful day.

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