Student Saves Life of MTSA Alum's Mother


Student Saves Life of MTSA Alum’s Mother

April 8, 2011 was to be just another day of clinical instruction and classroom lectures for MTSA Junior Todd Koppa.  He began the day in his usual manner of waking early to head-out the door for a busy day in the operating room followed by MTSA lectures in the afternoon.


The morning was uneventful, the cases went well, while nothing out of ordinary occurred.  Little did he realize that lunchtime may be a time he would not soon forget.  While he was in line at the Skyline Medical Center cafeteria, he noticed 80 year-old hospital volunteer Jean Wallace was having severe trouble breathing and was beginning to turn blue.  Todd noticed her gesturing as her color was changing and quickly moved into action, assessed Mrs. Wallace, and determined she may have food lodged in her airway.  He immediately started performing the Heimlich maneuver and after eight attempts – and to his relief – a bite of food dislodged, and she began to breath. 


Todd takes this all in stride and prefers to not draw attention to himself.  “I simply did what anyone else would have done in that situation,” he said.  “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  I’m just glad she is doing well today.”


Mrs. Wallace stopped by MTSA on a rainy afternoon to meet Todd for the second time.  She has little recall as to what he looked like.  Their meeting was one of excitement and thankfulness as he told her the details of his actions.  She was able to learn more of what actually took place that day.  “Todd is my hero,” she said.  “He’s a very special person who I know will continue to be a credit to this school and his profession.  I’ll always love him and would gladly take him into my house if he needed a place to go.”  She continued saying, “He was supposed to be there when I needed him.    I’m a firm believer in Divine guidance, and Todd being there that day was no accident.”


Robert Wallace, CRNA a 1983 MTSA graduate and Jean’s son says, “I am so proud that ‘one of our own’ came to mom’s rescue.  I very much appreciate Todd’s actions because when those types of situations are thrust upon you – we are not sure how we’ll respond.”  He continued, “I’m grateful he had the courage to step-up and do something – I would expect nothing less from a well-trained MTSA student. This really completes the circle allowing my mom to continue to be active and vibrant.”


MTSA is proud of Todd and the quick action he took to save and extend a life.  Todd and his son Kaden (age 5) moved to Nashville from Phoenix, Arizona so Todd could pursue his dream of becoming a CRNA.  He will graduate in 2012.

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