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heartwarming-story

2.24.2024

A Heart-Warming Story About a Heart That Stopped

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Feb 24, 2024 By Melissa Bogle Special to the Times-Review As featured in The Cleburne Times-Review:

It was a typical November day at Gateway Mortgage for the team of Jerry Lair and Amanda Jimenez. They had finished work for the day and were headed next door to grab a pizza with Jerry's sister, Cheryl Goree when suddenly Cheryl heard a commotion across the street. At first, they thought a fight was breaking out due to all the yelling. Then Cheryl realized it was a cry for help.

Amanda’s 18 years as a critical care nurse and six as a nurse practitioner kicked in, and she sprinted across the street to see how she could help. In the back seat of a pick-up truck was Janet Mitchell, who lay lifeless, suffering from cardiac arrest. Her husband, Jerry, was frantically calling her name and asking her to wake up.

“You could tell they were in a panic, and at that moment, it's hard to know what to do," said Mortgage Sales Manager Jerry Lair in Cleburne, TX. Amanda had her husband pull a lifeless Janet from the car and carry her to the grass in front of the courthouse, where Amanda immediately began doing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). “They are just incredibly lucky Amanda was there,” said Jerry. “This is what she does. She’s saved so many lives, and I’m just so proud of her.”

Amanda gave Janet CPR until Officer Ryan Michels arrived, and then the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) team arrived shortly thereafter. Through CPR, they were able to get a pulse and transported Janet to the hospital. In the ambulance and at the hospital, medical personnel continued to do CPR until Janet could be stabilized and put into a medically induced coma.

When asked what was running through her head, Amanda said, "I just went into work mode.” Reflecting, Amanda says, “It was kind of strange. I’m used to a whole team working together on a patient when they go into cardiac arrest. Outside the hospital, there is nobody around to help you. I was on my own. Thankfully, the EMS crew arrived quickly and took her to the hospital.”

“At first, I thought she was just play acting in the back seat,” said Janet’s husband Jerry. “Then, when she fell over limp, I knew something was wrong. I was reached around in the back seat, shaking her, trying to wake her up, when this lady ran up and offered to help. I have taken CPR classes but was so glad to have a real ICU person there to help.”

“The doctor said she only had a 50/50 chance of making it, and I said I would take it,” said Janet’s husband, Jerry. "God put everyone in the right place. If it hadn't been for that nurse running across the street, dodging cars, my wife wouldn’t be here today. The police and paramedics all got there so quickly. It was all perfect timing.”

Janet would be transferred to three different hospitals to get the care she needed. They discovered she had pneumonia, and her heart was only beating at 30%. Multiple times, medical teams had to shock Janet's heart back to life and into a normal rhythm. She was placed in a medicated induced coma for three days and left the hospital eight days after her heart stopped with a new defibrillator.

While in the hospital, Janet’s family found Jerry’s sister on Facebook and reached out, asking to meet Jerry, Amanda, Cheryl, and Officer Michels. Three weeks later, the group met in front of the courthouse. Janet jumped out of the car and ran to hug the people who had saved her life on that same lawn. She gave Amanda a big bouquet of roses to thank her.

“It was so exciting to meet them all,” said Janet. “It is amazing that somebody was there when I needed them, and they immediately jumped in to help you and save your life.”

“They were so kind to find us through Facebook,” said Amanda. “That they actively looked for us. It was nice to go back to the site to meet. Janet looked so different and was so happy and excited to see us.”

Now for the rest of the story….

You might be asking yourself how Amanda is connected to Gateway other than through her husband, Jerry. Well, in 2020, Amanda needed to cut back on her hours in the hospital while the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height due to health reasons. She started working with Jerry at Gateway as a Loan Originator. She still works a few days a month in area hospital ICUs, but her full-time job is with Gateway. That is why Amanda was there that fateful day in November.

"We were an hour late going to dinner because Jerry had to finish working on a new mortgage loan application," said Amanda. Had we gone to dinner on time, we would never have heard the cries for help. I thank my lucky stars; it worked out the way it was supposed to."

Officer Ryan Michaels and Jerry Lair already knew each other. Jerry teaches a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class at Rogue MMS just a couple of blocks from his Gateway office, and it just so happens that Ryan is his student.

Janet's husband, Jerry, usually would not have been out running errands with his wife and son. Jerry was laid off 14 days earlier from a company he had been with for 15 years. "I've been able to stay home and look after Janet as she still tires out quickly," said Jerry. "Now that she's better, I really need to find a job. We used our 401k to pay for the COBRA insurance."

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help pay for COBRA benefits and medical bills at https://gofund.me/83b301a9.

According to the American Heart Association, the overall survival rate for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is around 10%. However, survival rates can be improved if bystander CPR is started immediately.

February is National Hearth Month.

https://www.cleburnetimesreview.com/living/a-heart-warming-story-about-a-heart-that-stopped/article_645bbc84-d0ca-11ee-b205-e7d6616101a3.html

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