When OUWB medical student Meghan Brown made a grocery store run on April 25, she didn’t expect it would be a life-changing — and life-saving — experience.

‘Nothing short of amazing:’ OUWB medical student jumps into action, saves man’s life
An image of OUWB medical student Meghan Brown
Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine medical student Meghan Brown jumped into action and helped save a man's life on April 25, 2020.

When Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine medical student Meghan Brown made a grocery store run on April 25, she didn’t expect it would be a life-changing — and life-saving — experience.

That’s exactly what happened, however, when the fourth-year medical student helped save the life of a man she saw collapse in the parking lot.

Not only did she push aside any fears of COVID-19, but she took command of the situation by calling 911 and putting to work the CPR skills that she learned as part of her education at OUWB.

The chance encounter had a big impact on all involved.

“Being able to provide these life-saving measures without having a team behind me, instructing me what to do, was a moment of clarity,” she said. “It was ‘Wow, OK, this training has paid off.’”

Brown says her actions were what she was “supposed to do” as both a medical student and someone who will be a physician in less than a year.

“Not many parents can witness their child in action saving a life,” said Andrea Lipuma Brown, Meghan’s mother. “It was a truly phenomenal experience and OUWB gave her the confidence and knowledge to be the leader needed in that very scary situation.”

Dave Lawrason, son of Jerry Lawrason (the man who collapsed), said what Brown did that day was “nothing short of amazing.”

“I consider her an angel,” he said. “I believe God had her there at that specific moment to do something great.”

 

‘Everything adds up’

Brown is from Traverse City, Michigan, and graduated from Traverse City Central High School in 2013. She earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the University of Michigan in 2017 and expects to graduate from OUWB in 2021.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she had been home in northern Michigan for several weeks. In late April, Brown and her mother decided to head to Rochester to grab some things from her apartment and check on her grandparents.

An image of OUWB medical student Meghan Brown and her family.

Brown with her mother and grandparents just before heading to the grocery store on April 25.

Brown insisted that they do a grocery run for them to a nearby Kroger.

“Looking back on this whole thing, everything adds up weirdly perfect when I think about it,” she said.

Brown said her mother didn’t really want to do the grocery run because of the risks associated with COVID-19. Also, Brown’s grandparents had been using a delivery service to get what they needed. Still, Brown felt an almost overwhelming need to do the shopping for them.

Another variable that led to Brown being in the right place at the right time happened inside the store.

“I’m very familiar with that Kroger because I shop there all the time,” she said. “But I had trouble finding a couple of things on my list that day. I was there longer than I would have otherwise expected.”

Brown eventually found what she needed, checked out, and got back in the car with her mother.

As they drove away from Kroger and were approaching a CVS in the same shopping center, they saw Jerry Lawrason collapse right in front of them.

‘I felt a responsibility’

Without hesitation, Brown put on a mask and gloves and called 911. The emergency operator asked if the man had a pulse. Brown said he did not and the operator instructed her to immediately initiate CPR.

Despite the general threat of COVID-19 at the time, Brown didn’t think twice about it.

“As a medical student, I felt a responsibility to help this man,” she said. “Especially since I know how to do CPR. I know how to assess someone.”

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At OUWB, medical students take Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), prior to the start of their third year.

That means Brown took the courses in June of 2019 and had performed CPR one other time on a patient. However, she said that was in a clinical setting and in the presence of other health care professionals.

When it mattered most — on April 25 — Brown was ready.

For seven minutes, Brown said she became oblivious to everything around her and was entirely focused on saving Lawrason’s life.

“It’s hard work,” she said. “People don’t realize that you are really working, putting your whole body into it.”

Brown said she knew it was working when color began returning to Lawrason’s face.

“I remember my mom saying ‘It’s working! It’s working!’ but I was focused on keeping the pace,” said Brown.

It wasn’t long until the EMTs arrived and took over. The man was taken to a hospital where he recovered enough to move to a cardiac rehabilitation facility.

‘Nothing short of amazing’

For David Lawrason, Meghan Brown’s actions gave him a few more precious months with his father.

Following the parking lot collapse, Jerry, 76, was in the ICU for about a month and then moved to a cardiac rehabilitation facility.

David visited his father often and said he was lucid and in good spirits. He did not remember anything that happened on April 25 from the time he was walking into the CVS to buy iron pills.

On July 7, Jerry had another cardiac arrest and died. (His obituary can be found here.)

“I visited with him the day before he had this second cardiac arrest and he was sharp as a tack,” said David, adding that since April 25 they were able to talk daily.

David said he and the rest of his family are grateful for what Meghan did.

“What she did was nothing short of amazing,” he said. “Her training kicked in and took over…she went into gear. I truly believe that if someone else was there at the time, he wouldn’t have made it.”

David also said the Oakland County Sheriff Office commented on Meghan’s handling of the situation.

Specifically, her assessment of Jerry prior to the arrival of the first responders allowed them to know exactly what to expect upon arrival. That helped save what ended up being critical time.

“In my discussion with the sheriff’s department, they told me Meghan gave them all of the critical information they needed and that helped them prepare,” he said. “They knew exactly what they needed to do and the sheriff’s department said the way she handled it was…just perfect.”

“We’re lucky,” he added. “We’re lucky she was there.”

For more information, contact Andrew Dietderich, marketing writer, OUWB, at adietderich@oakland.edu

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