‘She was my guardian angel’: Nurse saves fan during Notre Dame football game

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 6:42 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Now to a pretty remarkable story about the lifesaving efforts of a nurse who happened to be at the right place, at the right time.

That place? Inside Notre Dame Stadium.

In just seconds, she went from fan to first responder, coming to the aid of a man who was unresponsive. We caught up with her and the 77-year-old man whose life she helped save.

It has been said football is a game of first downs… Last October, it was anything but a game inside of section 2 near row 58, where first aid became the story.

Christa Brubaker and her dad, Mike Brown, were in town with family to watch the Irish take on the UNLV rebels.

“So, um, we got into the stadium, found our seats. Um, there was plenty of room up there, so my husband had sat with us for a little while, and, um, the lady next to us said, you know, ‘My daughter and her friends are going to be coming. We’ll need these seats,’” Christa said.

“Yeah, so I’m the group whose mom said that my daughter and her friend and boyfriend are coming,” recalled Lauren Huyvaert.

Lauren, a registered nurse at Memorial Hospital, got there late for the game but was just in time to make a lifesaving play.

“I looked over, and Dad had fallen asleep, and I sent a picture to my mom, and I said, ‘Dad’s enjoying the game,’” Christa continued.

Her dad Mike wasn’t asleep. He was unconscious.

“The more I looked at him, I thought, you know, he does not look good,” Christa said.

That’s when Christa told 16 News Now that Lauren, her neighbor in the stands, noticed the commotion.

“Our neighbors sitting next to us leaped over a couple of people and said, I’m a cardiac nurse, how can I help?” Lauren asked.

And the last thing Mike remembers?

“The last thing I remember, the, uh, team was out on the field, uh, practicing, uh, the two teams before pre-game, and they were out just, you know, uh, throwing the ball around, things like that. I never saw any of the beginning of the game at all,” Mike said.

Lauren began CPR on Mike while also asking vital questions, such as does he have any health conditions? Is he a diabetic? Does he have any cardiac issues? Has he had anything to eat or drink today?

For Lauren, it was like going to work.

“Literally went to work,” Lauren said.

She said it felt like 30 minutes… but it was only a few before medical officials at the stadium got involved and continued compressions.

16 News Now asked Mike what was going through his mind as he finally got to look at both his daughter and the person who saved his life.

“Very thankful. Very thankful,” Mike spoke.

These three haven’t seen each other since the ordeal… until last week when all three just so happened to be back at the stadium for the Irish vs. Central Michigan.

“Uh, I gave her a big hug and thanked her, you know? She, uh, she was my guardian angel,” Mike said.

Last year, Christa wrote a note for Lauren, which she finally gave her last weekend. It read in part:

“So the front of it says, for the nurse who saved my dad’s life with a heart, and then the inside says, words can never express our gratitude that we were seated next to you at the Notre Dame Game on October 23rd, 2022. My dad is still here with us because of your quick action and resuscitating him,” Lauren read.

Some will call it the right place, right time….in football, that’s a Hail Mary…

The incident last year is a reminder of the importance of knowing CPR. Lauren says if we’ve learned anything in the last year, every minute counts.

Last thing: After several tests, cardiologists cannot find a reason for what happened to Mike on that day.

He’s 77 and has never had prior heart issues, which is proof this can happen to anyone.