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Young woman shares how doctors saved her life with CPR after she went into cardiac arrest at New York City restaurant

Woman shares how doctors saved her life with CPR at NYC restaurant
Woman shares how doctors saved her life with CPR at NYC restaurant 02:43

NEW YORK -- A family's annual trip to the Big Apple forever changed a young woman's life when she went into cardiac arrest minutes after sitting down for dinner in the Theater District.

Brittany Williams had no pulse for eight minutes, but she lived to share her story thanks to the help of strangers.

Williams and Dr. Brandon Johnson stood over the spot where their lives became forever intertwined.

Eight years ago, both decided to head to Three Monkeys in the Theatre District; Williams was going to have dinner with her family, and Johnson, an ophthalmologist at New York Retina Center, was going to have a drink with a friend post-shift at the hospital.

"Within about five minutes of getting here, my parents said they looked over and they thought I was having a seizure," Williams said.

"I heard a scream from the adjacent room right behind us asking if there was a doctor or a nurse," Johnson said.

He says the bar went silent and seemed paralyzed, then his instinct and training kicked in.

"I saw Brittany lying unconscious on the floor," he said.

He started CPR, and after a minute or two, Nick Farber, another ophthalmologist, came to help.

"We performed CPR for about eight minutes or so," Johnson said.

EMS arrived and used an AED -- Automatic Electronic Defibrillator -- to get her pulse back.

"Waking up two days later, hooked up on a ventilator, I was confused," Williams said. "And I was 24 years old. I was doing everything they tell you to do to live a healthy lifestyle."

Doctors explained she survived cardiac arrest.

"In my mind that happens to older people. It goes to show that heart disease does not discriminate and it can happen to anybody," Williams said.

Doctors diagnosed Williams with Long QT syndrome, which causes fast, chaotic heart rhythms. She lives with an implantable defibrillator.

"It's so important to me that I can share my story so I can help save a life, raise the awareness of heart disease and how important CPR is," Williams said.

Dr. Eugenia Gianos, director of cardiovascular prevention at Northwell Health, says learning CPR is simple.

"You'd be surprised you have the power to save a life," she said.

She says go to the American Heart Association website and learn hands-only CPR.

"Only 10% with an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive," Gianos said. "We can make the statistic better."

Johnson certainly did his part, saving Williams, who just three hours prior to going into cardiac arrest posted a picture captioned, "Living my best life."

"He's the guy that saved my life. He's the one performed immediate CPR, and that is why I'm standing here today," Williams said. "Every time I give him a hug, I never want to let go."

Williams and Johnson have kept in touch through the years, and both say they consider each other family.

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