Austin woman uses CPR to save friend's life


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and Photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 25 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- Yet another example of how CPR saves lives happened in North Austin just a few weeks ago. This time one friend used CPR to save the life of another.

It's not uncommon for friends Kanar Yousef and Shannon Isbell to meet at the Woodward Crossfit Gym in North Austin. However, during their workout three weeks ago, the two friends found themselves on opposite ends of a near fatal situation.

"They call it an ocular aura," said Yousef. 

Yousef was having a seizure.

"They don't know why I have seizures," she said. "I do have epilepsy, but they can't find a reason for mine. There's no specific reason."

When the brain is functioning normally, neurons alternate their firing patterns. During a seizure large groups of neurons fire simultaneously. You can think of it as an electrical storm.

Isbell, a registered nurse with Heart Hospital of Austin, knew what to do.

"During a seizure, you know, you just have to protect their head," said Isbell. "There's not really anything specific you can do. All of a sudden I noticed she wasn't breathing, and her face was blue." 

Yousef no longer had a pulse. Isbell knew this had progressed beyond a seizure situation, and she began doing CPR.

After the initial six chest compressions, Yousef began breathing again and the pink returned to her cheeks.

Isbell relied on the calm that comes from over a decade of intensive care nursing. But emotions got the better of her as she reflected on her friend's recent near death experience.

"I've never done CPR on a friend before," said Isbell. "I've been a nurse for almost 11 years. When you look down, and it's your friend who is not breathing."

Yousef feels blessed her friend was around.

"When you wake up from a seizure you just don't understand why everyone is staring at you, and it's really a scary feeling," said Yousef. "I could have either not been here, or I could have had brain damage. So many things could have happened. I was just really lucky Shannon was here."

"Every day I get to see that she's back and doing the things that she loves," Isbell said. "She's got a future with her husband that's just wide open and amazing." 

Isbell said it's that story she wants to tell about how CPR really does save lives.

Isbell's family was so moved by what happened that day, they've purchased an automatic, external defibrillator for the Woodward Crossfit Gym.

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