A group of strangers are being hailed as heroes at the Green Hills YMCA. Nine gym goers decided to step in when they witnessed Lauren Lax wither down to 79 pounds and still try to push herself to work out.
Louise Grant reached out first and Lax politely, but defensively, declined the help.
"There was something that really hit my heart that morning that said you have to do this now or she won't be here," Grant explained to News 2.
Other gym members reached out to Grant, and the group decided to hold an intervention with Lax.
"We really felt that we were stepping over bounds, that it was not our place to interfere with this young girl's life. We all at the same time felt like we had to act and most importantly, we had to act immediately."
The group searched online and found Lax's father and an eating disorder specialist. They also called Vanderbilt University Medical Center and told them Lax may be coming to the facility.
Before daylight in August 2011, the group waited in the parking lot as Lax pulled in and surrounded her.
"It felt a lot like a kidnapping actually, because we all felt so guilty thinking, ‘Who are we to interrupt this girl's life?'" Grant explained.
After about 20 minutes of pleading with Lax, the strangers convinced her to come with them to Vanderbilt.
"She just relented, and I think she was just exhausted. Not just from those last 20 minutes, but maybe it was 13 years of exhaustion."
It later came to light that Lax had battled anorexia since she was 10-years-old.
"She had a lot of tears in the car and, honestly, the rest of us did too. We knew she was in pain and it scared us as well, because we had intervened on someone's life."
If they had waited any longer, Lax could have died. Her heart had slowed so much that doctors thought they might have to implant a pacemaker.
"Lauren's heart was so weak that it was almost certain that she would have died within a week," said Grant.
Lax now calls the group her Nashville Angels.
"They're really messengers that saved my life, and that's why I call them my angels," Lax explained.
Lax is now healthy and about to complete her graduate studies at Belmont University.