Moak and her husband were out for a bite to eat after the University of South Carolina football game against Mississippi State when a woman sitting three tables away fell on the floor unconscious.
Moak ran over to help. The woman had no pulse, so she yelled for someone to call 911 and started CPR compressions.
The woman was Greta Cox of Charleston, who was in Columbia to attend her daughter’s high school cheerleading competition.
“I remember feeling hot and nauseated—I thought I was having a hot flash. My daughter was sitting right next to me,” Cox said.
Moak continued CPR compressions for nearly 15 minutes until paramedics arrived—a tiresome task.
Cox’s heart had gone into ventricular fibrillation, a deadly heart rhythm if untreated. Paramedics shocked her heart with a defibrillator. Moak continued CPR compressions and felt a weak pulse as paramedics lifted Cox onto a stretcher.
Cox’s doctors and Moak agree about one important thing. “The only reason she’s alive is because of CPR,” Moak said. In Cox’s situation, there is only a small chance of survival without prompt attention, including CPR.
When Cox left the intensive care unit at the hospital and moved to a regular room, she learned about Moak performing CPR and wanted to meet her. Later that week, she called Moak.
“She said, ‘Tina, this is Greta. Can you come see me? Can you come see me right now?’”
Both women immediately started crying on the phone. When Moak went to the hospital, the women hugged for what seemed like forever and cried.
“I don’t think it was an accident that Tina was at the restaurant that day,” Cox said.
Moak wasn’t supposed to be at Wild Wing Café that afternoon. She and her husband planned to go to a post-game tailgate, but decided to have an early supper instead.
“She saved me. I owe Tina my life forever,” Cox said.Moak received a Hero Award at a luncheon at Lexington Medical Center in January, presented by LMC President & CEO Mike Biediger. Cox was there, too.
Today, they talk every week or two and are friends on Facebook.
And the women have a lot in common. Cox is a mother of twins. Around the time of Cox’s cardiac event, Moak learned that she was pregnant with twins due this summer.
“Tina is a selfless, phenomenal person,” Cox said. “She has a genuine compassion for helping others and I think that should be a requirement in health care.”
Cox’s heart issue remains somewhat of a mystery. Doctors think she may have had a blood clot, but they’re not sure. They also noticed some anomalies on her EKG that day. That surprised Cox because she eats right and exercises. She may have a genetic predisposition to heart disease. Cox now has a heart defibrillator implanted in her chest to regulate her heart rhythm.
When it comes to heart disease in women, Cox has advice. “Be aware of what’s going on in your body. Women often have different symptoms than men,” she said. “I now have a second chance at life. And I am so grateful.”
And Moak has an important message about CPR. “Everyone should learn CPR. And when you do, make sure you push hard and fast. You can save a life.”
Want to learn CPR? Tune in to WIS-TV on Monday, February 17 at 5:00 p.m. Or, attend our Heart Fair on Sunday, March 2 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton on Bush River Road in Columbia.