When her mom’s heart stopped beating, a young girl called 911 and was coached through CPR by a dispatcher.
Walking through the hospital doors is kind of a big deal for Misty Moore and her daughter Hayley McKinley, 10.
First there’s the idea that Moore can even walk – something she was unable to do six months ago. Then there’s the idea that everybody knows Hayley.
“You don’t remember me? Well we remember you. You’re my buddy. You’re the IU Health West mascot,” said Nurse Kapri Ames, Director of Emergency Services, Pediatrics. Like Ames, other nurses, occupational therapists, and a chaplain have vivid memories of Hayley McKinley and her mother – memories they soon won’t forget.
It was 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11 when Moore told her daughter that her chest hurt and she was going to rest on the couch. Hayley curled up next to her mom. Like any other night, the 10-year-old planned to remain downstairs until her dad Brandon McKinley, returned home from work. She would tell him “good night” and then go upstairs to her room.
“I’m so glad I didn’t fall asleep,” said Hayley. When her mom began gasping for air, Hayley called her dad, who was on his way home from Terre Haute where he was completing his day as a mechanic for a gas company. When she didn’t get an immediate response she called 911. Over the phone, Indianapolis Fire Department dispatcher, Kris Mayfield began walking Hayley through CPR.
“I was crying at the beginning but the operator was being so calm and that’s what I needed,” said Hayley, who turns 11 on September 12th.
This is a girl who is in the sixth grade at Bridgeport Elementary, a member of an award-winning math bowl team, and a softball player who once dressed up as Colonel Sanders for a school project about historical figures. She’s a girl who shrugs her shoulders in that “no big deal” way when her dad talks about her recognition of heroism by the American Red Cross. She’s the same girl who first learned about CPR by seeing a poster hanging in her school’s gym.
Brandon McKinley estimates his daughter performed CPR for about three minutes before he walked in the front door and took over.
“I walked into a nightmare. Haley was pushing with everything she had. She yelled, ‘daddy help’ and I took over coached by the dispatcher,” said McKinley. When Wayne Township emergency responders arrived, Moore was rushed to IU Health West. “They had to shock her five times. Fortunately my mom got there so Hayley didn’t have to see all that,” said McKinley.
The last thing Moore remembers is going to work that day at the Marion County Assessor’s office. Her chest hurt then and she told McKinley she thought she had strained a muscle lifting files. The couple, together 13 years, met through family members. They talked throughout the day and Moore said she had no reason to think there was anything serious with her health. Both her parents suffered strokes but Moore said had regular doctor check ups and had no history of high blood pressure or diabetes.
Everything changed on that February night.
“They told me there was a 25 percent chance she’d wake up,” said McKinley. His fiancé suffered a heart attack and multiple Ischemic strokes, obstructing the blood supply to the brain.
Moore was hospitalized for weeks – spending part of that time in a medical induced coma.
Nurses Jennifer Markowitz and Stacy Westmoreland were part of a team of caregivers for Moore and her family. Chaplain Michael Gilbert was also part of that team. A big focus on that care was Moore’s daughter.
“With anyone who has cardiac arrest there is a guarded prognosis. With low oxygen to the brain their prognosis is unknown at that time. You have to give it time to see if they will recover. It was a scary time for Hayley,” said Westmoreland. “I spent a tremendous amount of time talking to her. When she got here she was not looking good but I talked a lot to Haley about what a wonderful thing she did and if she doesn’t make it it’s not her fault. I think she got the sense she did something amazing but she wanted it to keep going. She wanted her mom back and I wanted to make sure as a 10-year-old she knew that she had done everything she could,” said Markowitz. To help ease some of the fears of the unknown, Gilbert consulted pediatric caregivers at Riley Hospital who helped him prepare for Hayley’s initial hospital visit with her mom.
“I spoke with them maybe five minutes and I had a list of 10 things to do,” said Gilbert. There were two matching teddy bears brought in – one for Haley and one for her mom, time limits set for Haley to be in the room with breaks offered for her to process the situation. Staff members got her a doctor kit and kept her busy with errands and trips to the hospital cafeteria for soft drinks and snacks. They made paper hearts for visitors to sign – encouraging messages that Haley could also read.
Haley wrote her own letter to the staff members who cared for her mom.
“I want to thank you so, so, so much for what you do, how you help me, my mom and dad and all the people who visited my mom. You helped us be happier. I don’t know if it is possible to have the best and worst day of your life in the same week but that sure happened to me,” Haley wrote. She now has her sights set on becoming a nurse or firefighter.
The best day came when her mom showed the first signs of awareness with a single tear trickling down her cheek. Slowly she began to recognize the people around her. To encourage her recovery, Gilbert told her he’d be her “Dancing with the Stars” partner and occupational therapist Jessica Herceg arranged backstage passes for Moore to see her favorite group – New Kids on the Block, one she first saw in concert at the age of 14.
“I was talking about how special Misty’s story is and I felt like something really amazing needed to happen for her,” said Herceg. One person got in touch with another person and before they knew it, Misty had a personal backstage meet and greet with the group.
About five days after she arrived at IU Health West, Moore could sit on the side of her bed. “By the time she left the hospital she could walk about 80-feet – a big struggle and also a big accomplishment,” said McKinley.
Months of physical therapy have helped Moore learn to walk, talk and care for herself. She longs for the day she can drive her daughter to after school activities and shopping outings but for now says she is blessed to be alive.
“I’m a walking miracle,” said Moore, “Because of my daughter, my hero, I’m lucky to be alive.”
— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
Reach Banes via email email@example.com.