Nurse's perfect timing saves man's life - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Nurse's perfect timing saves man's life

Charity Caldwell Charity Caldwell

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Charity Caldwell almost skipped her graduation ceremony.  It was a good thing she didn't, and a good thing she was running late.

"As I go into the lobby I have half of my gown on, my hat's not pinned to my head yet, and I came across a man down on the ground," she said.

The man had just suffered a heart attack.

"I went straight to my knees, felt for a pulse, saw he was barely moving any air, and yelled, 'Call 911,'" she said.

All of Caldwell's instincts from her training at Southwest Tennessee Community College kicked into high gear.

"He lost his pulse and I started chest compressions," she said.

It was something she'd only done once before, and is thought to have been instrumental in saving the man's life.  Later, Caldwell found out who it was she just saved.

"My teachers grabbed me as I was walking back and tugged my gown, and said, 'Do you realize who that was you worked on?' I said, 'No.' They said, 'That's Dean Swinny.'"

Glenn Swinny, Southwest's Dean of Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Health Sciences, received double bypass surgery and is now doing fine.

Caldwell met him while he was recovering at the hospital.

"He hugged me and said, 'Thank you so much,'" She said. "I cried and he cried."

Not only did Caldwell almost not go to her graduation, she almost didn't become a nurse.  As a single mother working full time, her classes became a struggle.  She failed two classes by a couple of points.

"I was dismissed from the nursing program," she said. "I was devastated."

At the time that meant she could never go back.  But then, Southwest changed its readmission policy.  Eight years after she began her quest for her nursing degree, she finally got it.  Without a doubt, it happened at exactly the right time.

"I was here because I was supposed to be here at that exact time to save his life," she said.

Proof that it's worth giving second chances.

"It was a second chance for me to have a career," Caldwell said. "That resulted in a second chance for Dean Swinny."

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