SKLD Patient Grateful for a New Lease on Life
Anna Schultz of Grand Rapids, Michigan, remembers getting in her car after attending church on Sunday, September 30 and then her memory goes blank. What happened next, she’s had to piece together from witnesses. Anna suffered a cardiac arrest while driving and cruised through the intersection of 28thSt. and Eastern Ave., where her car collided with a bus stop sign. At the scene, a passerby pulled her out of the wreckage and began CPR chest compressions. Anna remained unresponsive until another good Samaritan arrived at the scene and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. At that point, Anna gasped for air and then the paramedics arrived to take over.
Anna has reimagined that first breath countless times since the fateful day. A deeply religious woman, Anna calls it the “breath of life.” She now considers the former stranger who performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, Sharon Bruce-Carey, among her dearest friends.
Sharon says that she and her husband were late to church that Sunday and happened to take an alternative route when they encountered traffic caused by Anna’s accident. The two headed into the traffic, rather than away, to see if they could help. Sharon, who is trained is a medical assistant and currently works as a home health aide, saw that Anna wasn’t responding to the chest compressions and insisted on giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. “There were 30 people standing there, but nobody gave her a breath. They all said to me that I don’t have a mask, and I thought, ‘I’m straight; this is a life. I’m going to give her breath.’”
Since the accident, Anna and Sharon have visited together numerous times, both at the hospital and at the SKLD Medical Residence East Beltline where Anna recuperated for three weeks. During her final week at the facility, SKLD staff organized a special Olive Garden dinner for Anna and Sharon, together with their husbands, Mike Schultz and Christopher Carey. Deb McCollum, administrator of SKLD East Beltline, says she was so moved by the incident that her team presented plaques to both women. “I’ve been an administrator for 15 years, and I’ve never heard a story like this one,” says Deb, who admits to sobbing when Anna shared the story of her rescue.
While at SKLD, Anna says she received wonderful care. “They are very top of the line as far as I’m concerned. The care here is wonderful. They watched over me to make sure I did what they told me to do, and the staff are personable, kind, wonderful and caring.”
Anna still doesn’t know the identity of the first responder at the scene of the accident, who pulled her out of the car and performed chest compressions. She spoke to the police and still hopes to find the woman so that she could thank her.
As for Sharon, Anna says she feels like she has known her forever. Now that Anna is at home recuperating, both women have no doubt they’ll stay connected. “I believe that God saved my life through this woman who performed the breath CPR,” says Anna.
Sharon says this incident and her newfound friendship with Anna is a silver lining in what’s been a difficult time recently. “I’m claiming victory. This situation is going to turn us around. I was there for a reason, so I know this setback is a set up for a comeback.”