TAMPA (FOX 13) - Debbie Taylor's November 2017 trip has come full circle. Her journey began at Tampa International Airport last month. Two weeks into her month-long trip to Vietnam, she got sick and decided to come home. Six hours after boarding a plane from Shanghai, China to Detroit, Debbie collapsed.
When flight attendant's asked for help, retired firefighter and EMT David Patrick responded without hesitation.
"To be honest, she looked dead. She was in very grave condition, she had no color in her," he recalls.
Patrick was joined by Dr. J. Francis Turner, an intensive care specialist from the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville. "When I found her in her seat she was essentially in shock, breathing very poorly, and cold and clammy," he said.
Patrick says her blood pressure was dangerously low and she needed fluid but there were only two IV bags on board. "We went through the first bag to and bring her pressure up; the second bag had a leak in it."
They, and a team of three other doctors -- including Xun Zhu M.D., an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Jie Zhou, M.D., an anesthesiologist in Louisville, Kentucky; and DeXin Zheng, M.D., a respiratory therapy specialist -- began pumping oxygen into her lungs through this mask for five hours.
"You have to hold the mask over the patient's face to get a pretty decent seal...no face is perfect no mask is perfect. It's not a good fit, so you have to smoosh it in there an squeeze this bag," he explained.
"Initially we set up three-minute cycles where we'd take her blood pressure again and we'd switch off," Turner said, explaining the tiring process.
They gave her epinephrine to boost her pressure but she didn't wake up.
Patrick continued, "I think we all pretty much wrote her off, didn't have any hope for her."
The plane made an emergency landing in Anchorage, Alaska and Debbie was immediately intubated and put on a ventilator. A few days later, in Providence Medical Center, Debbie woke up. Despite her lack of oxygen, she didn't have brain damage.
Turner offered, "Surely God had intervened because truly this is a miraculous recovery."
"I think I had some angels on my shoulder that day, somebody didn't want me up there yet," Debbie added.
Angels her daughter Cheri Cowans wanted so badly to thank she's been using television, radio and social media to help track them down after Delta Airlines informed her, for privacy reasons, they couldn’t release their names.
A FOX News Radio broadcast in Pittsburgh got the attention of Hai-Ming Wu. She had heard the story about the lifesaving work in a WeChat group discussion with some of her former colleagues. That led to the discovery of the names of four of the doctors involved.
"So thankful for whoever found her in the seat and knew something was wrong and thank God for the people who took time to care about her even though they didn't know who she was," Cowans said.
Care that's making this holiday season even brighter. "I've already gotten Christmas this year, the fact that I’m going to be here for Christmas this year. Yes, it's going to be very special this year," Debbie continued.
After reaching out to Delta Airlines, they issued this statement to FOX 13:
“Delta has the utmost gratitude for this team of medical professionals who came to the aid of one of our customers who fell ill. We sincerely appreciate their efforts to support this customer while the crew followed protocols to divert the long-haul, transoceanic flight.”