METAIRIE – Nearly a decade ago Kathleen Garcia attended a first aid class at Archbishop Chapelle High School where she was taught how to perform CPR if someone needed it in a life-saving situation.
While some other freshmen may have been tempted to glaze over the class, Garcia said she paid attention, but she had no idea that she would have to call on those skills more than a decade later to save someone she loved so dearly.
However, earlier this year Kathleen was at her mother’s home when she heard a loud crash coming from the bedroom. As she ran to see what had happened, she feared the worst.
It was the action she took next that changed the future for her entire family, and formed a special mother-daughter bond.
"I have no recollection of anything that happened. I woke up Monday afternoon in the hospital with people looking at me," remembers Mary Anne Garcia, 62.
In February, Kathleen found her mother, Mary Anne, passed out and turning blue on the floor. Unfortunately, her older sister, a registered nurse, was not at home. While dad was on the phone with 911, Kathleen was on the floor doing nonstop chest compressions and rescue breaths.
This counting of three compressions and two breaths went on for an exhausting 15 minutes before EMS arrived.
"Being in that situation, seeing her like that, I was just like, 'I can't lose you,'" said Kathleen Garcia, 25.
Mary Anne had v-fib, one of the most deadly heart conditions. The heart's electrical activity becomes disordered, so the heart doesn't beat in rhythm. EMS used an AED to shock her heart back into rhythm. She now has an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator to send an automatic internal shock if it ever happens again.
"I wouldn't be sitting here today if it wasn't for her, and if it wasn't that she didn't, she didn't give up. She never gave up," said Mary Anne wiping tears from her eyes.
"I appreciate her being here a lot more. Now I'm going to cry. You just don't take anything for granted," Kathleen said about her mother. "The good, the bad, any day she's here is a good day. So she's my angel."
Numerous medical professionals tell Mary Anne how lucky she is to be alive and without brain damage.
"She knows. I tell her all the time. I tell her at night, you know, you're my angel," Mary Anne said while hugging and kissing Kathleen.
Despite her condition, Mary Anne was insisting on riding in the Krewe of Iris just days after her medical incident. However, her daughters rode in her place.
Now, the mom whose baby girl took her breath away and stole her heart the moment she gave her life, had that gift returned.