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Passenger’s strange but deadly symptoms spotted by nurse who saves his life at airport

A registered nurse saved a man’s life after noticing he was displaying symptoms of a heart attack at an airport in North Carolina.

On June 7, Claire Cerbie was waiting for her flight to Knoxville, Tennessee when she noticed fellow passenger Ken Jeffries seemingly struggling to breathe at the gate. 

“Just the way that you were snoring and breathing sounded like you were having a heart attack based on what I’ve seen before,” Cerbie told Jeffries on a Zoom call reunion organised by WBTV.

Jeffries, 57, was reportedly showing signs of laboured breathing, which more than half of patients going into cardiac arrest experience, according to the University of Arizona’s Sarver Heart Center. Other symptoms may include gasping and snoring.

“Bystanders often misinterpret gasping and other unusual vocal sounds as breathing and do not call 9-1-1 or begin lifesaving chest compressions quickly enough,” the center explained.

Cerbie quickly started performing chest compressions and asked fellow passengers to help, as one rushed to find a defibrillator.

She said: “We put the pads on him. It indicated a shockable rhythm, and it shocked him in between while we were doing compressions.”

Cerbie and the other people helping her performed CPR for ten minutes before Jeffries finally regained a pulse. 

“He had his own rhythm. He was breathing on his own and we kind of just stayed by him until the paramedics arrived,” the nurse said.

Jeffries, who is now safe and sound, appeared very emotional as he thanked Cerbie for her help. 

“A ‘thank you’ is not enough, Claire”, he said on Zoom. “Thank you for what you did. I am so appreciative and indebted to you.”

“I’m very glad that I was there that day to help you out. I’d obviously do it again in a heartbeat,” she replied. “I’m so happy to see that you’re doing so well.”

According to Dr William Downey, who treated Jeffries after his attack, the man would have died without the nurse’s quick thinking. 

WBTV reported that Cerbie was upgraded to first class by American Airlines following her heroic rescue. 


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