Woman thanks heroes who helped bring her back to life two years ago

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City woman died, but is still living and breathing today. She went into cardiac arrest at home two years ago and with the help of a loved one and paramedics, she survived.

Wednesday afternoon, she was finally able thank her heroes in person. The reunion was two years in the making.

When Carl Leocardi first met Joan Newby, she had already died.

"I kept asking the doctor, 'are you sure? You're telling me that I had no pulse, no heartbeat?' I said, 'that means I died?'" Newby said with a wide smile on her face.

Newby had a heart attack in June of 2012. Her daughter started CPR while help was on the way. But that wasn’t enough. She died within minutes until Leocardi of the Kansas City Fire Department revived her.

"My tongue was hanging out. Why would that be?" Newby asked Leocardi about that day.

"Because you weren’t here. You were somewhere else," he said.

Newby went through a lot of therapy and was finally ready to meet her heroes.

"I'm a hugger, especially for some people who have done all these wonderful things for me. I mean I'm here seeing my grandson and daughters," she said.

The 77-year-old had continuous oxygen flow to her brain and heart, that’s why she’s still alive today. The reunion was a happy one for Leocardi, as well. It’s not every day he gets to see people he’s helped.

"She's still got a lot of spark," he said.

CPR during those first few minutes is crucial in survival. KCFD teamed up with other fire departments and hospitals to promote a program called 'Heart Safe Community.' The program provides hands-on CPR training.

"My daughter, the one who was doing the resuscitation, said it's not like it is on television," said a laughing Newby.

With the sobering experience behind her, Newby says she’s blessed to have this second chance at life.

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