By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Eighteen years ago, a Tupelo police officer saved Hannah Davis’ life. Now, she’s ready to pay it forward.
Hannah and her hero, Buddy Irving, reunited this week in Tupelo, just a few weeks before Hannah starts her first year at Itawamba Community College.
“I wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for him,” Hannah said.
Hannah and her mother, Amy Davis, had lunch at Sweet Pepper’s Deli with Irving and his wife, Carol, on Thursday.
Both Irving and Amy Davis have vivid memories of the spring day in 1996 when Hannah stopped breathing.
Hannah was born at 28 weeks and had spent the first six and a half weeks of her life in a newborn intensive care unit. She’d been home from the hospital for only about 10 days when she stopped breathing.
“I thought she’d gone to sleep,” Amy Davis said. “She had blood on her mouth and she couldn’t breathe. My mama called 911. I’m thankful he was right around the corner.”
Irving, who was a Tupelo officer for 25 years, had stopped at St. Luke United Methodist Church for a cup of coffee when he heard the call. The Davis family lived on Joyner Avenue, so Irving was the first responder.
“I couldn’t feel a heartbeat,” Irving said. “I asked (Hannah’s) mother and grandmother to step out of the room, because (infant CPR) is very delicate and very dangerous.”
Hannah weighed only four and a half pounds, so he was gentle when he breathed shallow breaths into her mouth and used two fingers to press gently on her heart.
“By the time the fire department got there, the baby had started breathing again and she was crying,” he said.
Irving performed CPR on adults plenty of times during his career, but never on a baby, especially one that size.
Irving retired from the police department several years ago and now lives in Vernon, Alabama. He’s reunited with Hannah a few times over the years, but hasn’t seen her since she was a middle-school student.
Amy Davis and Irving reunited over Facebook and set up the lunch this week.
Hannah just graduated from Tupelo High School and plans to major in pre-med. She hopes to become a medical missionary, especially in Nicaragua. She’s traveled there twice already.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the body,” she said. “I’m ready to spread my wings and fly.”