A local woman who suffered cardiac arrest was saved by a stranger who performed CPR on an MTA bus.
Sandy Tormey told Nashville's News 2 his wife, Elizabeth, was on the No. 19 bus on the morning of November 26 when she collapsed.
"They said right as they got up to the bus stop to where she was supposed to get off to Goodwill there at Herman Street, she fell and they thought she was having a seizure," Tormey said.
The 52-year-old mother of two did not have a seizure. She suffered cardiac arrest from a weakened heart.
"She has something called cardiomyopathy," said Dr. Stacy Davis, Elizabeth's cardiologist and Comprehensive Director of the Heart Failure Program at Baptist Hospital. "The electrical system, in the very simplest terms, of her heart shorted out." During cardiac arrest, the heart stops."
"Unless there is a way to get it started again, you're in trouble," Dr. Davis said.
With no way to shock Elizabeth's heart into beating, another bus rider began cardio pulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, to keep her alive until emergency workers arrived.
"I thought for sure she was going to die on me," Tormey said.
The Tormey family has struggled recently.
Sandy is a vendor for The Contributor, a newspaper sold by the homeless. On the morning of her medical emergency, Elizabeth was on her way to the Goodwill Career Solutions Center, hoping to go from part-time to full-time employment.
She collapsed on the bus less than a block from the center.
Following CPR, she was taken to Baptist Hospital where doctors, nurses and hospital protocol helped her recover with limited side effects.
On Monday, she was given a pacemaker defibrillator, a device that will help her maintain a normal heart rhythm.
"She's doing better. She's still a very slow recovery, but she's pressing on," Tormey said.
Elizabeth does not remember what happened that day.
Many played a role in saving her life, but Tormey knows his wife's life-saving journey started with CPR from a stranger.
"I don't know who. I would love to tell them thank you, from the bottom of my heart," he said.
According to the American Heart Association, 88% of cardiac arrests occur at home, less than 8% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive, and immediate CPR can double or triple a victim's chance of survival.