Near-death heart save turns strangers into friends

James Cade and Tahisha Hannor are pretty tight these days, after a chance encounter that changed them both forever.

It happened on September 30, 2015, the day James Cade's heart stopped beating.

The then 48-year old senior recruiter for The Home Depot was working at his desk at the company's Atlanta headquarters, when he started to feel strange.

"Some tightness in my chest, some tightness in my arms, actually both arms," Cade remembers.

So, he went downstairs to the lobby, to try to walk off the pain.

That's where Tahisha Hannor, a nurse practitioner in The Home Depot's on-site Minute Clinic, noticed Cade pacing.

"He just appeared to be a little bit uneasy and a little bit anxious," Tannor says.

So, Tannor approached Cade, to see if he was okay.

"When she came out to get me in the hall, that's the last thing I remember," Cade says.

"I remember him telling me he was a little bit uncomfortable, had a little bit of indigestion," she says.

In 5 years, Cade had never visited the Minute Clinic.

Now, Hannor coaxed him into an exam room.

But, but even in here, she says, he ways pacing, clearly uncomfortable.

"He just kind of walked around, and walked around," she says.

Tannor asked Cade to sit down, so she could take his blood pressure. It was high.

So, she asked him to lean back on the exam table, to see if that relieved his chest pain.

"One of the things we're essentially concerned about is chest pain that resolves at rest," she says

Just like that, the pressure lifted.

"To me that was a sign we had an emergency on our hands," Tannor says.

That's when things got really hairy, says WellStar Medical Group cardiologist Salvatore Mannino, who ended up treating Cade that day.

Hannor didn't know it, but Cade's heart was suddenly shutting down.

"His heart went into an irregular rhythm called ventricular afibrillation," says Dr. Mannino, "And, he collapsed."

Cade lost consciousness. He was now in full cardiac arrest.

"It was frightening. I could not believe it," Tannor says. "But, I knew there was not time to be frightened. It was time to work."

Tannor, who was working alone in the clinic, immediately started CPR.

"I dialed 911, put it on the speaker phone and started yelling for help," she remembers.

With aid from a security guard, Hannor kept doing chest compressions until paramedics arrived.

They used an AED to shock Cade's heart back into a normal rhythm, but he wasn't out of the woods.

"Mr. Cade came to the hospital in very critical condition," says Dr. Mannino. "He was on life support. He was on a mechanical ventilator."

The WellStar critical care team dropped Cade's body temperature to protect his brain.

Then, Dr. Mannino reopened the blocked blood vessel in his heart and placed a stent in the artery to keep it open. Now, nearly a year later, Cade is doing well.

"The tremendous thing with Mr. Cade is he is basically back to his normal self," says Mannino.

And Cade and Hannor, strangers until that day, are now friends.

"She was at my birthday this year when I turned 49," Cade says.

All because Tahisha Hannor knew what to do, when James Cade needed her most.

"I was thinking that he's in my hands, he's on my table, and he's underneath my watch," she says. "I have to work hard!"

James Cade will walk in Saturday's 2016 Atlanta Heart Walk, along with close to 30 teams from The Home Depot.

Together, their goal is to raise $30,000 for the American Heart Association.