A 92-year-old Knox man was reunited Monday with the nurse who saved his life. It was Memorial Day when Leroy Gudeman, his wife, and two friends were having dinner at Applebee’s in Valparaiso, and he began choking on a piece of steak. He was able to indicate that he was not okay, and a member of the group began the Heimlich maneuver. Gudeman says that’s about all he remembers until he woke up in the hospital two days later.
Dana Jones is a nurse with Vibra Hospital of Northwestern Indiana, located in Crown Point. She was sitting in the next booth facing the other way. Her fiancé made her aware of the situation, and she quickly took over. “When I was doing the Heimlich where you stand upright, it was not effective because he ended up losing consciousness, and he became discolored and fell to the ground,” Jones explains. “At that point, then I knew to do abdominal thrusts.”
At that point, Jones says Gudeman didn’t have a pulse. His wife and friends began praying.
But as Jones gave chest compressions, she noticed that some air was passing through his nose, meaning she must have partially dislodged the food. By the time emergency responders arrived, Gudeman’s pulse had returned.
He was taken to Porter Regional Hospital, where he remained for a week. Gudeman was then transferred to the Catherine Kasper Life Center in Donaldson for rehabilitation. He returned home last Wednesday.
However, Gudeman wanted to find the nurse who saved his life. With some help from Facebook, Gudeman’s wife Kay was able to do that. Her posts were seen by Jones’s Facebook friends, who remembered that she had posted about the incident the night it happened, and made the connection.
On Monday, all six of them met once again at Applebee’s, just one booth over from where the incident took place, to formally meet each other and share their story with the Post-Tribune newspaper.
Leroy Gudeman is one of the founders of Kankakee Valley Broadcasting, the parent company of WKVI. Kay Gudeman serves as the company’s general sales manager.