A little over two months ago, Maria Prether (pictured above, right) sat in a room at Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center waiting on her father, who was having heart surgery.
Maria often has esophageal spasms – a condition where the esophagus closes up and leads to troubled breathing. On this particular day, she was eating lunch by herself when the spasms started – and from there, she began to choke.
Thankfully, Sarah McClanahan (pictured above, left) was there to help save the day.
Sarah has worked in our ministry for 12 years and currently serves in the operating room as a surgery and procedure scheduler. While in the waiting room, making her rounds of speaking with different patients and their families, she noticed that something wasn’t quite right with Maria. She immediately went over to check on her and was moments away from performing the Heimlich maneuver. Thankfully, however, Maria was able to bring the food up, catch her breath and breathe again.
“I noticed that she looked to be in distress, so I walked up to check on her and ask if she was OK,” Sarah recalls. “When I got up to her, it was clear that she was choking. As I was getting ready to perform the Heimlich, I heard her take a breath.”
Had Sarah not been paying detailed attention to those around her, including Maria, something much more serious may have happened.
“I think it is great to be trained and ready for any situation, should it occur,” Sarah explains “It’s important to be vigilant of your surroundings and know what is going on at all times, especially in a hospital.”
Maria was and still is extremely thankful for Sarah’s quick response and she acknowledges the fact that Sarah didn’t have to do everything that she did. Nevertheless, Maria is grateful that she was there to help. And Sarah is glad she was there at that moment to assist and help Maria.
“When she heard me choking, Sarah immediately rushed over to me to offer help,” Maria shares. “She was amazing – she even remembered who my son was and rushed to get him to come to the waiting room. She brought me wet cloths to clean up my face and continued to check on me after the fact. She truly went above and beyond what was asked of her – and I am incredibly thankful she was there for me.”
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