Mom, daughter left wondering about airline passenger they helped save

A mother, who is a registered nurse, and her daughter, a CPR instructor, were on a flight departing D/FW when there was a medical emergency. They stepped up to make a difference.

DALLAS -- A mother and daughter worked to stabilize a man suffering heart failure on a Delta flight bound for Atlanta. Now they want to know the fate of the man they worked to save.

"We were in the plane and just above the clouds, and my daughter looked into the clouds and said something is not right," said Sandy McCorkle, a registered nurse from Georgia.

McCorkle and her 22-year-old daughter, Rebecca Hawkins, were flying back home from North Texas after visiting family. Wednesday, the two were on a flight from DFW to Atlanta when a fellow passenger collapsed.

McCorkle is a registered nurse; her daughter a CPR instructor. They didn't hesitate. McCorkle performed CPR while another passenger, who was a doctor, manned the portable defibrillator.

While both were trained, none had ever had to do it for real.

"In that moment, you start forgetting the little things -- y'know, where your hands go, how fast to do it. So I was actually singing 'Staying Alive,' and they plane was probably wondering 'Why is she singing?' But that actually helped my mother keep on beat with the compressions," Hawkins said.

Their patient was cold, pale, and did not have a heartbeat. They shocked him three times with the defibrillator.

"When I saw that rhythm on the machine and I saw him take a breath on his own, that moment is the first time I was able to look up. Up until then, I saw nothing around me. I was focused on him and him only," McCorkle said.

"You're just looking at him like 'Fight, wake up,'" Hawkins said. "When you see him take that first breath, it's a feeling that you'll never get anywhere else."

They don't know how long it took, but their plane turned around, making an emergency landing in Dallas. The man they found unconscious was breathing on his own and had a pulse and was under the care of paramedics.

They didn't get his name and they don't know if he lived. For now, they can only hope what they did was enough.

"I would hope that he's been in the operating room, they opened up those clogged arteries, and he is sitting there with a little bit of oxygen on watching TV this afternoon, going 'Thank you,'" McCorkle said.


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