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UCLA nurse Lakeysha Pack saves umpire’s life

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Lakeysha Pack and Rudy Lopez
Nurse Lakeysha Pack’s rapid response at a Downey High School baseball game saved the life of umpire Rudy Lopez, who had gone into cardiac arrest. (Photo by Nick Carranza)

By Sandy Cohen, UCLA Health

Lakeysha Pack, R.N., was enjoying her son’s baseball game at Downey High School when the unthinkable happened: The home plate umpire collapsed.

Pack, a neonatal intensive care nurse at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital for 25 years, instantly sprang into action. She says, “For me, it’s just a natural instinct to react.” 

Pack rushed to umpire Rudy Lopez’s side, asked bystanders to help remove his shirt, told them to call 911 and started administering CPR. 

Her focus narrowed. Lopez was all she could see, and she had to keep him alive.

“I felt like I was in a bubble with just me and him,” Pack said. “All I could think is that I cannot let this man die in front of 40-plus young men and their parents.”

She worked on Lopez until paramedics arrived and raced him to the hospital, where doctors confirmed he’d experienced cardiac arrest. They said that were it not for Pack’s immediate response, he wouldn’t have survived. Lopez, now 72, has since made a full recovery.

On May 31, 2024, Lopez and his lifesaver reunited at Dodger Stadium, where Pack was honored as a Healthcare All-Star and invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the ballgame.

“It’s a blessing to be here,” Lopez said. “Not only did she save my life, but she extended it.”

“And it’s perfect to be here at a baseball game together,” his wife added.

Practicing for the big moment

When Lopez collapsed at the game in October of 2023, Pack’s response was automatic. 

Her decades as an intensive care nurse meant she knew exactly what to do. Even though she typically cares for infants, performing CPR chest compressions with “just my two little thumbs,” she effortlessly adapted to Lopez’s needs. She credits her training at UCLA Health and the recertification in CPR she completes every other year.

It was in throwing a baseball that she needed some practice. Her husband, Anthony Pack, and son, Anthony Jr., became her coaches.

“We were telling her that she doesn’t understand how big this is,” Anthony Jr. said.

“My husband had me at the park this morning,” Pack said with a laugh. 

Anthony Pack beamed with pride as he talked about his wife and her take-charge ways.

“Thank God she was there to save (Rudy’s) life. But what she did that day on that field literally is a microcosm of what she does at home all the time,” and in her work at UCLA Health, he said. “If a baby is having an issue, you have to react and there’s no time to talk. And before we knew it, she was running through the dugout, running onto the field and giving chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth. It’s who she is.”

As for taking the field at Dodger Stadium as an honored guest, Pack confessed that she was nervous.

“I don’t like to be the center of attention. I like to do for others,” she said. “But I’m blessed to be here, coming from a family that loves baseball but, most importantly, loves the Dodgers.”

Lakeysha Pack throws out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
Lakeysha Pack throws out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Nick Carranza)

Stepping into the spotlight

After watching batting practice, grabbing a bite in the Dugout Club and receiving a personalized Dodgers jersey, it was time for Pack to step onto the field for her big-league honor. 

An announcer introduced her as a Healthcare All-Star who performed lifesaving CPR to an umpire at her son’s baseball game.

“Thanks to Lakeysha, Rudy has made a full recovery and is here with us at the game to call Lakeysha’s pitch,” the announcer said as the audience cheered.

Pack waved to the crowd, took the mound and threw the pitch. “Strike!” Lopez called. And the two walked off the field, arm in arm.

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