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“Saved a Life?” Details, please!

jojoco
12 days ago

So many of you you responded “yes” to Oakley’s question about saving a life. And so casually, too! i’ve never saved anyone’s life and am awed by those that have. Can we have the stories behind that answer?

Comments (34)

  • Sueb20
    12 days ago

    Not me, and I didn’t do the survey, but DH has done the Heimlich 3 times, and mostly to random strangers. He’s just an ordinary guy with no medical training. Once at work in the cafeteria; once at the Harrod‘s food court in London; and once with our 2 yo DD. I don’t know if anyone would have actually died, but the first one especially was in a lot of distress.

  • artemis_ma
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    From my response:

    ...saved a life. Possibly. Someone pushed my brother (age 2, probably almost 3) into the pool. While it wasn't the deep end, it was also well over his head. It was a very crowded pool, and I remember yelling at the other kid (who I don't think was trying to be mean, just not caring where he was going) and diving down to pull up my brother. Who was sitting on the bottom, thumb tightly in mouth, looking bewildered but fortunately not yet trying to breathe. I was maybe 8 or 9. No, I didn't have to render first aid - he didn't swallow any water (and I wouldn't have known the first thing about that, anyway) - but the pool was so CROWDED and the life guard was at the other end, and I can't remember where my parents were, except that they weren't in the water with us.


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  • localeater
    12 days ago

    Same as Sueb20;s DH, Heimlich. It was at a park in NYC. Kids were running, playing. I was sitting on a bench watching. I noticed a kid on the ground choking. Turned out he had been running, with a sucker in his mouth, fell and it lodged in his throat.

  • Bestyears
    12 days ago

    When I was six months pregnant with my oldest, DH and I hiked into a lake in Northern California for a day of swimming, picnicking, etc. This was a huge lake (about 9 miles in length), but there were lots of isolated spots where we could just follow a footpath and have a nice spot all to ourselves, and this is something we did every few weekends. So on his particular September weekend, we were just enjoying lunch, maybe 30 feet away from the water's edge, and I suddenly thought I heard, "Help!" We jumped up and scanned the lake but couldn't see anything, and didn't hear it again. Then, after we'd sat back down, we saw a ski boat drifting in toward the cove. There didn't appear to be anyone on the boat, and it was headed for a rock jutty, so DH jumped up and ran down toward the jutty to stop the boat from hitting the rocks. Just after he did, I heard the yell again, "Help!" This time as I scanned, I saw someone's head, barely above the waterline, and then it was gone. Even now, recounting this, I can feel the panic that swept over me. I kept scanning, moving closer to the water's edge, and suddenly there it was again. A man's head came bobbing up, just long enough to yell, "Help!" again, and then disappeared. By this time, the man was closer to me, and my husband was fifty yards or so away trying to hold on to the boat. I remember thinking, "Either I save this man or he drowns." There was nobody else. But the thing is, I'm not a particularly strong swimmer. I love the water, but I've never had a lesson in my love, and I'm a real hack, a very inefficient swimmer. But when I spotted a small canvas raft that we'd inflated earlier, I knew instantly that I could make it out there on that. I'd estimate that the man was maybe 100-150 yards out from the water's edge. As I swam, I towed the raft, then exhausted, got on it and kicked my way toward him. I kept yelling, "Hold on, hold on, hold on!!!!" hoping that might make him do just that. His head was only surfacing every minute or so at best, and I was panicked that I wouldn't be able to find him when I got to the area, because he would be under the water. And then finally, I got to him, and when he surfaced for air, I was on one side of the raft and grabbed his arm and held onto it across the raft, yelling at him to give me his other arm. Soon, I had him positioned so that his head, shoulders, and arms were across the raft, while I held him on. I could feel my adrenaline surging but I was also exhausted. He was conscious and breathing, but only barely. He also reeked of alcohol. Eventually, I was able to paddle him back onto shore (my husband waded out and met us partway), and he collapsed onto the sand. We turned him on his side and he spit up bit of water, but was otherwise breathing and seemed okay except for being wiped out. This was before cell phones, so we couldn't call anyone for help. We debated going for help, but it would have taken hours (a hike out, and a drive from this rural small town to find help, and return). Also, I couldn't drive my husband's stickshift in those days, so either we both went (which didn't seem wise) or he went and I stayed alone (which we weren't comfortable with). So we just both stayed with this young man for the next six or seven hours. Eventually, after he slept for a few hours, he was able to tell us the story. He'd gotten into his boat, started drinking, and at some point decided it would be fun to toss his tube over the side of the boat and float around. But he was probably too buzzed to find the tube and he hadn't anchored the boat, and so he had spent the last few hours following his boat around the lake. At the time, I was a bit miffed that I had risked my life for drunken foolishness, but over the years I've become less judgemental, and I just think, "He was someone's son, somebody's brother......" I've always imagined that someone would feel rather heroic after something like this, but I just kept waking up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night, for weeks afterward, dreaming that I hadn't quite made it to him. We never again swam without an inflatable at the ready. It made all the difference that day.


    I never actually thought of this next episode as saving someone's life also, but when my daughter was about 9 months old, she flipped her baby water seat while I was stood at the pool's edge brushing the sides down. There wasn't a single sound when it flipped, but out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something and saw immediately what had happened. She was in the deep end, and I was at the far, shallow end, but I dove in and raced to her. Until my dying day, I will NEVER forget the sight of her little face underwater, and her little arms waving out frantically by her sides. She was probably only submerged for seconds, which I supposed is why I've never categorized it as saving a life, but I was shaken to my core and instantly trashed the baby seat.

  • gsciencechick
    12 days ago

    Mine was not dramatic, but when I lived in my previous town, there was a very intoxicated guy walking in the dark in the middle of the street where it curved a little bit near my home. I thought someone might come around that curve, hit him, and seriously injure or kill him, so I called 911 about it. I felt that if I read that someone was hit and died and I could have done something that would be horrible. Yes, I weighed the issue of over policing even at that time as they made so many arrests for public drunkenness in my college town, but I felt this guy was in real danger.

  • Feathers11
    12 days ago

    Interesting stories! I didn't complete the survey But my son, as a toddler, started gagging and choking on a tortilla chip at a Mexican restaurant. Not just coughing--he couldn't breathe. While my husband and friends starting freaking out, I calmly placed my son face down on my lap and patted his back. The chip fell out of his mouth to the floor. Like Bestyears above, I'll never forget the look on his face when he realized he couldn't breathe.

    I've also talked with 2 young people (2 separate occasions) who were suicidal, and stayed with them in those dark moments until those dark moments passed... and then arranged to get them professional help. One, my son's former girlfriend, was threatening to him on the phone while he was away at school. He called me frantic about her. I drove over to her house, and took her for a ride. We talked all night. I pointed her to resources for help and followed up with her parents, but they dismissed her as being "dramatic." (It was heartbreaking.) I met her for coffee occasionally, and she seemed to be getting better. A few months later, she threatened again to my son, and this time, I called the police to request a wellness check on her, which then forced more professional intervention. Both instances may have been cries for help and not actual attempts, so I don't know that I qualify as a life-saver here. But it gave me a new appreciation for those who work with the mentally ill and how exhausting it must be.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    12 days ago

    I didn't answer the survey, but I suppose I have "saved" a number of lives. Nothing as direct or dramatic as others' stories though.

    They say each blood donation can save up to 6 lives, and over the years, I've given more than 10 gallons, so in some small way, I have contributed.

  • Oakley
    12 days ago

    Good topic, I'm also interested to hear other stories. Mine may not seem all that big, but the doctor said it was a big deal.

    I used to watch my two grandchildren twice a week while mom and dad worked. Ten years ago when the first grandchild, a boy, was under a year old I was changing his diaper and saw a big red bump on his groin above the penis. I knew immediately it wasn't normal. When I touched it, he winced in pain.

    It looked like a big boil and they hurt like heck, and I knew in my gut it was MRSA.

    When my DIL got home I told her he needs to go to the doctor TONIGHT. She said he's had it for a few days and it will be okay, and not to worry. Not going to happen.

    After driving home I waited an hour until DS1 got home from work and I called and told him to take that child to an after hours clinic and do not wait. He's always trusted my opinions and said if I really think he needs to go then they'll take him now.

    A couple of hours later DS called and said, "Dam, you were right, he did have MRSA."

    A few years later I woke up one morning in great pain under one of my breasts. A big boil developed overnight, and it turned out to be MRSA.

    DGD got it when she was about 3, and now I'm starting to think I'm a carrier of MRSA from my nose, because they were living here while their house was being built, and I'm constantly blowing my nose.

  • Sueb20
    12 days ago

    Actually, TBH, I feel like I saved my dad's life last year by moving him into assisted living and out of a house full of stairs that was totally inappropriate for him. I am convinced he would have gotten covid and probably died if I hadn't moved him, because he can't even seem to follow the rules of quarantine in an assisted living facility where many eyes are on him. He has also fallen a couple of times since he moved, and if he had had the same falls alone in his home, they could have been disastrous.

  • amicus
    12 days ago

    I did do the survey but Houzz kept saying I had to log in to post, though I was already logged in. When my younger sister was 1, she reached up and took a hard candy from a dish on the table, and started choking on it. My mother desperately put her chest down on her lap, and tried hitting her between the shoulder blades (pre knowledge of Heimlich) but the candy didn't dislodge. She then held her upside down by her legs and yelled at me to hit her hard, in the same place. My sister's face was turning blue, but I was only 5 and afraid to hurt her. My mother yelled "HARDER!" and I did, and the candy shot across the room.


    As an adult, I was at a Bar-B-Q party in a backyard, and the hosts' pool was full of mostly kids who were floating around on floaties. I was chatting with someone near the edge of the pool's deep end, and suddenly noticed a child's body down under the water. I was able to get to her before she sank all the way to the bottom.


    As soon as I pulled 'Jane' out, she started choking out water and gasping for air on her own, so CPR was not needed. Jane (6 yrs.) later said she had lost her footing on the floor of the pool, right where the shallow end suddenly became deep, and was too short to stay above water. She tried to relax her body and float to the top so someone would see her, but couldn't. It was very fortunate I happened to be standing where I was, because there had been no cry for help and no splashing or struggling. Jane had simply slipped under the water and couldn't resurface on her own.

  • satine100
    12 days ago

    Years ago and newly married my husband and I traveled to the city we were both from to visit family. Our first stop was his parents home and one of the things we talked about was the Heimlich which my father in law had just read about and explained to us. I guess I must have been paying attention because the next day at my parents home we were having dinner and my mother began to choke and then was making a whistling sound and got up from the table and opened the back door trying to get air. I went up behind her and did the Heimlich and out popped a nut. I truly believe she would have chocked to death.

  • roarah
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I donated bone marrow to a “stranger.”

  • jojoco
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Your stories help to restore my faith in humanity.

  • Marlene Oliver
    12 days ago

    You are all amazing!


    I volunteered for a Suicide Hotline for years and don't know if I actually saved a life but for at least as long as I was able to talk with the person, that person was "safe." Some of the calls were from people who were just lonely. There were calls where the person was in true crisis and those are the calls that still haunt me.

  • Ded tired
    12 days ago

    My parents had a pool. A woman friend brought her toddler grandson over for a swim. The kid quietly fell in the shallow end, but way over his head. No one noticed until I saw him, jumped in and fished him out. He was gasping.


    My nephew, a doctor, was at a restaurant with his family. A child at another table was choking. Nephew used a utensil to clear the blockage and saved the kid‘s life.

  • roarah
    12 days ago

    I also had my life saved. My sister in law and the fast acting stroke center in Orlando saved my life a few years ago. I am forever thankful to them.

  • OutsidePlaying
    12 days ago

    Two Heimlich's in one summer. The first was while we were camping in a very remote situation. We had all been white water rafting that day and were sitting around eating our grilled dinners and enjoying adult beverages around the campfire. I happened to be sitting next to a friend who started choking. She just had that look. I asked if she was choking and she nodded. I put down my plate, took hers, and walked her a few paces away from the others and started performing the Heimlich. Although I had been trained. I had never done this on a real person in my life and was amazed at how much force I needed to exert to force food removal. She was a shorter, somewhat heavier person than me and after about 4-5 tries, the piece of steak dislodged. If someone tells you that you should break a rib if you have to, it is true. While I didn't break a rib, it felt like I exerted enough force to do so. If I had been unsuccessful, she would have died. No one else came forward to take over and we were much too far from any medical facilities to be of any use. This was before anyone had cell phones.

    The next episode was at a pool party a couple of months later. Another woman I had been speaking with started choking on something and again I had to start the Heimlich. The homeowner called 911. The victim in this case was fairly drunk (later I found out she often had too much to drink). She was about my height and thin. It took less time to dislodge the food, likely because of her weight. We heard the sirens approaching about the same time as we determined she was ok.

  • Tina Marie
    12 days ago

    @Annie Deighnaugh I didn't even think about that! But yes, giving blood can and does save lives!


    @Oakley I'm surprised they didn't test you/tell you if you are a MRSA carrier. My mother was a carrier, although she never had it herself. She was tested once as a routine procedure for a hospital stay.

  • robo (z6a)
    12 days ago

    Amazing stories!!


    I did have to accompany a few kids with alcohol poisoning to the ER and I did work on a helpline for a few years but don’t really know of any lifesaving I did. Love these stories though!

  • jb1586
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    My husband has asthma, and sometimes certain foods can irritate his throat and cause his throat to close. I have had to do the Heimlich on him twice, thank goodness, successfully. Not fun.

  • jojoco
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Anyone else getting chills? You all are amazing.


  • jmck_nc
    12 days ago

    I did not directly save a life, but helped my son while he did. He is a firefighter/emt and we were on our way somewhere when we witnessed a car hit a motorcycle head on. The motorcyclist flew into a ditch in front of us. We pulled over immediately to help. If we had not seen the crash, I'm not so sure she (motorcycle rider) would have been found quickly...she was very far from where her bike landed. Son provided first aid while I called 911 and fortunately we were a couple of miles from a fire station so help arrived quickly, and 15 minutes from a trauma center. About 6 months later I received a phone message for my son from the husband of the victim. She was recovering and wanted to meet him to thank him for saving her life. They spoke but did not meet at that time. She came to my house about a year ago hoping to meet him (he does not live here and was working that day). We spoke at length about her ordeal (12 surgeries on jaw, lost L leg and arm). She told us that everyone kept telling her in the hospital about the firefighter who saved her life (just being there at the right time) so she felt compelled to thank him in person. We were able to get together with her once more with my son and hopefully that helped her with her healing. That whole event was very traumatic...I have a new appreciation for first responders (especially my son...he was amazing under pressure).

  • nekotish
    12 days ago

    Not me, but DH. He was an electrical engineer for a railroad, and as an employee, took first aid every year. We live in a small, rural town and there is a small historic town not too far away from us, which had a lovely restuarant that we went to for special occasions. My Dad took Dh and I there for my birthday dinner. I was sitting across the table from Dad and DH. I noticed an older man who seemed to be in distress, his son (I assume) finally started to try to do the heimlich, but he was much smaller than his dad and was not being effective. I calmly told DH, "I think that man needs help." My DH is a big guy, 6'4'' and muscular. He darted over and was able to dislodge the piece of roast beef, but then the man lost conciousness. The restaurant owner was freaking out becuase "their person who has first aid" was off that night. DH did CPR until the ambulance arrived, at which time the gentleman had regained conciousness and was breathing. He refused to go to the hospital, he wanted to finish his dinner! He stopped by our table to thank my husband on their way out. The restaurant said that they would like to comp us a dessert each... I thought that they could have been a little bit more generous, but DH said "you do what you have to do and shouldn't expect a reward."

  • dees_1
    12 days ago

    I didn't answer the questions either but have saved lives. But I have also failed to save a life. I think we all need to take a step back and realize that our interactions with people, no matter how small, are important. The act of calling for help certainly is life saving and is as important as providing critical intervention. Giving someone a smile and a brief kind word can make all the difference to someone.

    My son choked on fried clams as a young boy. Two different times so twice I had use the Heimlich. Everyone should know that; simple and effective.

    A work friend and I kept in touch after I left that company. A couple times, my phone calls to him were during a down time for him. He later told me he was close to committing suicide. While I helped him through those dark times, my phone call to him on the day he was murdered was too late. If I had only called an hour earlier.

    The neighbor of a friend committed suicide in front of his family could not be saved. I made a choice not to assist after his wife told me where he shot himself. The first responders told me I made the right decision because there was nothing that could be done.

    A young woman working alone at a store didn't feel comfortable after a man came into her store and was there for an extended time. She told me about the conversation she had with him and his uncomfortable she was with him there. She said she didn't want to call the police because "nothing" happened. Well, my husband and I decided to check out the surroundings and found a man parked near the back of her store. There a was an officer nearby so we went back to the store to confirm the guys appearance, told her to call the police and contacted the nearby officer. Went home and a couple hours later, a detective called to discuss the incident. The guy confessed what his intent was and the police were certain she would have been killed. He spent time in jail for that. The officer I flagged down called me the next day and, in a very emotional way, thanked us for what we did because it could have happened with her 100 yards away, completely unaware.

  • Oakley
    12 days ago

    Tina, I never told the doctor about my grandkids getting it, I was in shock that I had it. If I did tell him he would probably have tested me. It's something I'm going to bring up to my new doctor if Covid ever goes away.



  • Ded tired
    12 days ago

    Lynn NM, that is an amazing story. Thank heavens you came along when you did.

  • maire_cate
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I never thought of this as saving someone's life because I didn't really do anything except stay calm but I drove DH to the ER when he was having a heart attack. It was fairly late in the evening and we were in the car when he told me what was happening. For some reason I became very calm, turned on the car flashers, called the hospital from the car to alert them, called his cardiologist and the emergency dispatcher and then continued to drive to the ER. I always carry a card with his pertinent information and list of meds and handed them to the medical personnel who initially treated him. I was relieved when they informed me that had I pulled over and waited for an ambulance we might not have made it in time.

  • lascatx
    12 days ago

    I did the Heimlich on my mother who was choking when I walked into the room and the other two people there didn't realize it. She was banging the counter trying to get their attention. It was about to get really bad and it took a couple tries, but it works,

    I did crisis intervention and I met with some victims at the hospital but was never sure how much impact it made, but after that I spent about 4-1/2 hours on a long distance phone call with someone a family member told me they felt was suicidal. After 4 hours plus, I heard the shift. That person got through the crisis and is doing well today.

    I don't know for sure, but I think I saved a life when I stayed up until nearly 3 am chatting online with someone 1500 miles away who was home alone and very ill until her husband got home from work. I was also looking up info so I could call 911 for her area and get help is she stopped responding. I'd never met her at that time, but I convinced her she needed to go to the hospital when he got home -- she was reisting because she didn't have insurance. Turned out she had a drug resistant form of pneumonia.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    11 days ago

    All these stories are so incredible. I never realized how frequently Heimlich was needed. Definitely a good skill to have.


    Long before the Heimlich, when I was a little girl, I choked on a life saver. My Mom and Dad flipped me upside down and banged on my back and it did get dislodged. Must've been really wedged as it came out bloody. After that, I knew why they were called life savers...I was able to still get air through the hole in the candy.


    Another time Dad saved my life...and I still remember this. We were in FL on vacation and I was only 3. He was standing about waist deep in the water talking to someone and I walked out to see him. I just kept walking even when the water got over my head. My Dad saw what happened, reached under my arms and swooshed me out of the water. I remember thinking it was great fun and wanted to do it again. Him? Not so much.

  • runninginplace
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    My job as a university advisor included working with our student leaders. One of the clubs was organizing a major event and very suddenly the student president vanished; wasn't answering calls or texts. Since he was always a solid, reliable leader I was worried so I went to one of his classes and discovered he hadn't been there for over a week with no word to the professor. Seriously concerned by this point, I called and had one of the resident assistants go to his dorm room to check on him. RA reported he was there and said he was fine. An hour later he appeared in my office to tell me he was feeling suicidal and only came to me because he couldn't face anyone else.

    It was (of course) close to 5 pm on a Friday but I called the university counseling center and managed to get the director to agree to see him. I drove him over, stayed while he spoke to someone there and they hospitalized him immediately for his own safety and of course called his family.

    He told me later if I hadn't kept trying to reach him he was ready to go and would have.

    When I read the survey that incident didn't even dawn on me as a 'saved someone's life', so this discussion was what jogged my memory.

  • kkay_md
    11 days ago

    My cleaning woman arrived one day (pre-pandemic) and we chatted a bit. She told me that her son, who had recently had an appendectomy, was at home and very uncomfortable. She had called his doctor several times, concerned because he wouldn't eat and was lethargic, but the doctor kept saying his symptoms were "normal" and he'd be fine.


    Alarmed, I urged her to go home immediately and get her son to the ER and demand a CBC. So she rushed home and got him to the hospital, where he was found to have sepsis. He was hospitalized for over 2 weeks. She later told me that I had "saved his life." I'm not sure that was true, but I was happy that he got the medical attention he needed.

  • pudgeder
    11 days ago

    My husband is a Type 1 diabetic.

    There have been numerous, NUMEROUS occasions where his blood sugar has dropped so drastically that he was barely functional. In the early years, it was mostly at night when we were asleep.

    There have been times when we've been talking on the phone, and I could tell his BS was getting low, and I'd tell him to check it. Inevitably, it would always be dropping.

    The most recent and most drastic event happened about 3 years ago. It was in the evening, he had left the house to go to the store to pick up a prescription, and then dinner and come home. About an 1.5 hours later, I realized he wasn't home, so I texted. No reply. I called. No answer. Repeat. Still no answer. Then he somehow sent a "sticker" on the text, something he's never done before, I immediately called again, and this time he answered.

    "Where are you?" "I don't know." My heart nearly stopped. I asked if he was driving, Yes. PULL OVER NOW. Fortunately he cooperated. Then I started asking him, what do you see? Do you see any road signs? His BS was so low he couldn't function. Thank God he pulled over.

    Long story short, after contacting 911, the sheriff's department and the police, I was finally able to track him using the FIND MY PHONE app. My son was out looking for him as well, as soon as I pinpointed his location, I called the 911 dispatch again, and they sent in the cavalry. By the time I got there, son, the paramedics, fire department and police were on scene. Our son was able to get him to take his glucose liquid, then tablets and eat some snacks. Paramedics checked him out, and released him. That was a horrifying event.

    The CGMs (Constant glucose monitors) specifically DEX COM were brand new and just coming on the market at that time. We were able to get him set up with that. And we've since added a "tracker jacker"LifeAlert 360 to our phones. Our kids have us on theirs as well. ( we can't track them, but they can track us.. LOL )

    The Dex Com has been such a life saver. He monitors his BS levels through an app, and I can too. It has taken a load of worry off of me, although we can never let our guard down.



    Once when my son was about 8 or 9, they were going to the store. I called and asked where they were, again, "I don't know." Son got him to pull over and tried to take the keys. Hubs wouldn't let him have them so I told son to get out of the car. "But, Mom..." GET OUT OF THE CAR. Son was able to get the keys, and had a candy bar in his pocket and convinced him to eat it. So at that age, our son saved a life.


    Diabetes is awful I wouldn't wish it on anyone.


  • Feathers11
    11 days ago

    Wow... I'm in awe. These are amazing stories.

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