Vermonter takes to social media to try to find stranger who saved her life

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 5:19 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It was a miracle on Main Street in Burlington. A Vermonter suffered a heart attack downtown and was saved by a good Samaritan. But who was this mystery hero?

On the afternoon of Sept. 2, Danielle O’Hallisey passed out from a heart attack in front of the Hilton Garden Inn downtown.

“By the time I was in the ambulance the EMTs were saying, ‘You have no idea how lucky you are,’” O’Hallisey said.

O’Hallisey is alive and well, which she says is unexpected after suffering ventricular fibrillation, a life-threatening heart rhythm that can be triggered by a heart attack.

The Mayo Clinic calls it the most frequent cause of sudden cardiac death.

“It’s the kind of thing I’m told the heart never recovers from on its own. I was dead. There was no coming back on my own had someone not done CPR very rapidly,” O’Hallisey said.

As the heart attack struck, good Samaritans stepped in.

“I ran up and at that point, she was barely breathing, barely with us. So, I immediately called 911 and when I was on the phone with 911, she had stopped breathing and was unresponsive,” said Matt Llabres, a witness.

As Llabres was on the phone with 911, he says a mystery hero emerged from the Hilton and conducted lifesaving CPR.

“She just dropped down to her knees and she knew what to do automatically. There was no hesitation or doubt or second-guessing,” Llabres said.

Llabres describes the woman as a short brunette who identified herself as a nurse practitioner in the right place at the right time.

“A nurse practitioner did this but it was crazy, no one knew her name and we still don’t know her name,” O’Hallisey said.

O’Hallisey is in the hospital receiving a defibrillator.

She has taken to social media to find this mystery nurse.

Llabres and other witnesses have identified themselves, but still no lead on who this woman was.

“It was a person who knew what they were doing and did it right and did it immediately and made all the difference,” O’Hallisey said.

O’Hallisey, who is a transgender woman, says she has had bad experiences with medical professionals in the past and wants to share with the mystery hero how thankful she is.

“She not only saved my life but to me-- this is more important-- she restored something that was broken in me in terms of my faith in humanity because it has been so tried so many times by so many people,” O’Hallisey said.

We don’t know if this nurse practitioner was visiting Burlington or lives here.

Neither the Hilton nor other nearby businesses I spoke with managed to capture the incident on camera, so we can’t show you a photo of the woman. But if you do happen to know this mystery hero, Danielle O’Hallisey wants to thank her.

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