Moni (49) was driving on the federal highway when she suddenly became unconscious and her foot pressed the accelerator with full force. Moni’s guardian angel is Emily: her 15-year-old daughter. She sat in the passenger seat and reacted quickly.

FOCUS online: You suffered a cardiac arrest while driving five weeks ago. Tell us what happened.

Moni: That’s difficult because I have no memory of it. Not even the five days before. In such a situation, the brain runs at half-mast – that’s how the doctors explained it to me. The reason: The body is supposed to recover and is switched to economy mode, so to speak.

When will your memory start again?

Moni: I have a brief memory of the time when I was in the intensive care unit. I was cold and drank something that tasted like vanilla. But it wasn’t until two days later, in the normal ward, that everything was back.

Emily: However, I told Mom numerous times in the intensive care unit what happened. She ended up asking me every five minutes.

Moni: Apparently I said: “Oh nonsense, that can’t be right”.

Emily, tell me.

Emily: It was a Thursday and I had a driving lesson. I’m currently getting my scooter license. My mom always takes me there. Because it’s a bit far away from us and it wouldn’t be worth driving home and picking me up again, my mom stayed there as usual. She had quite a headache that day.

Moni: I have an allergy to rapeseed flowers and thought that was where it came from. All around it has just bloomed yellow again. I often get migraines.

Emily: While I was riding the scooter, Mom lay down in the car. Luckily she took the big car that day. That may have saved us.

How come?

Moni: The big car is a four-door, an SUV. The small one, a Ford Fiesta, has 90 hp and reacts much faster because it is lighter.

Emily: If Mom had gone ahead with the Fiesta, things would have definitely turned out differently…

Sounds like your mom suddenly went full throttle?

Emily: That’s exactly how it was. After the driving lesson we returned to the motorway. Shortly before the driveway, a car was pulled out in front of us by the police. We were just talking about dinner. “I thawed ground beef,” Mom said. She wanted to make spaghetti bolognese. I remember that she said “I’m really hungry” – and that I then pointed out this car, which, as I said, had been pulled out. What happened next only lasted a few seconds. But in memory it feels endless. Like in slow motion.

What exactly?

Emily: Mom turns around and wants to turn on the indicator. Suddenly she falls backwards. A microsleep, I thought. I’ve been hearing about this a lot lately in connection with accidents. And maybe mom didn’t sleep well. But when I spoke to her, she didn’t wake up. “Mummy! Mom!” I shouted. Her eyes were open, but she didn’t react. Then what I just described happened: Mom stepped on the accelerator. The car accelerated.

Do you know how fast you were driving?

Emily: Yes. 120. 80 were allowed on the federal highway. But it wasn’t just the speed that was the problem. Our car didn’t stay in the lane and drove in serpentine lines.

Moni: We were lucky again at this point. The route is pretty straight for about three kilometers. I don’t want to imagine that there would have been a curve. Then Emily would have had an even harder time steering.

To steer?

Emily: What was I supposed to do? I reached into the steering wheel with my left hand and dialed the emergency number with my right hand. “We’re going here,” I said. “My mother is unconscious.”

And you were still at 120? During this conversation?

Emily: All the time, yes. Maybe three minutes in total. In the meantime I had activated the hazard warning lights. The man on the phone asked me if I could brake. But that didn’t work. I was wearing my motorcycle gear and thick boots. I was completely clumsy…

But now we want to know how the stunt-worthy scene ended.

Emily: The man at the rescue center must have heard that mom was breathing strangely. “Heart attack,” he said. Meanwhile we were approaching an exit. And the car slowed down. I looked at the speedometer: we were only doing 40.

Mom’s foot had obviously come loose somewhat. “Are we going straight ahead or are we taking the exit?” I asked. “Can you slow down?” the man asked. “How does that work?” I asked back. Then he said: “Pull the handbrake.”

Did that work?

Emily: Luckily, yes. The car shook quite a bit, but then it stopped. I got out, still on the phone with 911. And I cried. I had eight hours of school that day, then driving school – and then something like that.

Many cars passed by, but one stopped. He saw that mom was unconscious and now had white-blue lips and called the emergency number. Together we pulled mom out of the car and put her in the recovery position.

I’m glad I took a first aid course shortly before, because of driving school. I knew that Mom could have choked. But I also knew that if the blue-white lips lasted any longer, it would be dangerous. If the brain doesn’t get oxygen for more than seven minutes, it leads to brain death.

How did you behave until the ambulance came?

Emily: The other responder started CPR. At the same time, I gave mom mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There must be some videos of this.

What do you think?

Emily: Well, while we were providing first aid, onlookers stopped and took photos and, as I said, filmed. That still haunts me to this day. What kind of people are they?

And then the ambulance came…

Emily: And Mom continued to be resuscitated. Half an hour in total. She also received three shocks. When we pulled her out of the car, I could no longer feel a pulse. Now he is slowly stabilizing. This meant she could finally be taken to the hospital. In the meantime, my dad came to the scene of the accident. We drove home, I changed, we packed a few things for mom and went to the clinic.

Was there an all-clear here?

Emily: Not yet. Mom was put into an induced coma for two days, her body was cooled to 33 degrees. After several examinations it was clear: she had a so-called posterior wall infarction. This is the kind of heart attack that doesn’t show up beforehand and is apparently quite severe. But mom had a guardian angel. After two days it was said: no permanent damage to the brain. Mom would become her old self again. Apart from the four stents they had put in her. Mom had some constrictions in her heart.

Moni, how did you feel when you regained consciousness?

Moni: Actually good. And then it gets better and better day by day. I was released after eight days. The only thing I noticed at first was that I was quickly out of breath. And the chest compressions left me with a lot of muscle soreness in my chest, which I still feel a little to this day. But the doctors say it should go away.

How are you mentally?

Moni: You probably only really process something like that bit by bit. But one thing I can already say is that what Emily did was amazing. You’re at a loss for words. Maybe I’ll just say it the way the doctors put it: the faster you react to a posterior wall infarction, the better the chances of recovery. That speaks for itself, right?

I don’t think it needs to be said that you saved your mother’s life. Instead, tell us how you are, Emily.

Emily: To be honest, it’s almost getting on my nerves now, this “Oh my God, you did a great job” that comes from so many people. As if my mom should be so grateful to me right now. As if I had acted this way out of love. I would have done the same to anyone else. That was a lightning reaction.

Moni: My Emily is a kind-hearted person.

Emily: And as far as mom is concerned: We are best friends. That anyway.

Could the incident have strengthened your relationship?

Emily: Like I said, it’s good anyway.

Moni: But one thing, that’s different now.


Moni: I used to often say: I gave birth to you, don’t be so cheeky. At this point we’re going to get a bit confused.

Emily: That’s right. I saved your life, so I’ll give it back to her. In the sense of: I owe her something.

Moni: When shopping, for example. “What, we don’t need that?” When Emily seems like that to me, I get the short end of the stick lately…

Surf tip: Causes and symptoms – How to minimize the risk of sudden cardiac death