Off-Duty ER Nurse Saves a Stranger’s Life in Martial Arts Class

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Man and woman posing with plaque award

Little did Rex Hardin know when he woke up one morning, he had only a two percent chance of living…and an “off-duty” ER nurse from HCA Healthcare’s Orange Park Medical Center would save his life.

Jordana Taji, a first-year registered nurse at Orange Park Medical, and Hardin, two strangers and members of a local martial arts and fitness gym, happened to attend the same jiu-jitsu class one evening, when Hardin suddenly collapsed face down onto the floor. Taji, understanding the severity of the situation, didn’t hesitate.

She began to perform CPR, with the help of three other medically trained members in the class, commanding each step until emergency medical services (EMS) arrived. Her life-saving support didn’t end there. Taji later assisted the rescue team with the IV, while Hardin was placed onto a stretcher en route to a local hospital.

Hardin beat the 98 percent odds that he would not make it through what he now knows was Afib (atrial fibrillation), an irregular or rapid heart rate which can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or other heart-related complications.

An implanted defibrillator device and six stents later, he had Taji to thank: “When you’re lying in the hospital for six days, all you can think about is all of the things leading up to that moment,” he said. “If I had stayed home that night or Jordana hadn’t ended up in my class, I would have never made it.”

Call it fate or call it coincidence, we call it HCA Healthcare Nursing. Our caliber of nurses and the quality of care we provide doesn’t stop at our front door.

Since his recovery Hardin has watched his oldest son get married, his youngest start pre-k and has reunited with his father’s family.

Taji was awarded the Orange Park Medical Center Life Saver Award on August 31. Orange Park Medical Center also donated an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to the martial arts studio, Knuckle Up Martial Arts & Fitness.

Man and woman posing with award

Jordana Taji poses with Orange Park Medical Center LifeSaver Award and David Werner, owner of Knuckle Up Martial Arts & Fitness.

Man hugging female nurse

Taji reunites with Rex Hardin.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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