Latonya Robbs-Joseph and Juan Carlos Restrepo are credited with saving the life of an infant who had stopped breathing in the clinical lab Jan. 17. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Latonya Robbs-Joseph and Juan Carlos Restrepo are credited with saving the life of an infant who had stopped breathing in the clinical lab Jan. 17. (Photo by Janine Gelineau)

Quick action by UConn Health staff prevented a tragedy in the clinical lab last week.

A horrified woman burst out of a consultation room holding her one-month-old daughter, who had stopped breathing.

The closest person was clinical coordinator Latonya Robbs-Joseph, who took the infant and started CPR. Someone else called 7777, the internal emergency number.

“She was red, turning purple,” she says. “There was no response. She was limp.”

Laboratory assistant Juan Carlos Restrepo then gave it a try.

“The baby felt like a doll, with no movement, and she was changing color,” Restrepo says. “After I would say 20 to 30 seconds, the baby’s stomach releases as I compress, and then I start hearing the baby cooing. I pick up the baby, she’s looking at me, I’m looking at her, and her chest starts to move. As I look at the mother, the mother was shaking and crying, then I saw the biggest smile. And the baby then rested her head right on my chest after that. And that, well, that was a moment.”

Restrepo says after he handed the baby back to the grateful mother, he was overcome with emotion and had to step out into the hallway.

“It was a very moving experience,” Robbs-Joseph says. “I think it was that parental instinct. We’re both parents. People were like, ‘What did you think?’ I didn’t. Instinct just kicked in, and I was like, ‘God, please save this baby.’”

Both Robbs-Joseph and Restrepo are certified in infant CPR.

“All we want to do is serve, and that was one of those given moments where we put that to practice, 110 percent,” Restrepo says. “This is one of those moments that everybody just chipped in, everybody just did their part, and the willingness of everyone is what stood out. We saved a life, as a team.”

Robbs-Joseph says she hopes this story inspires others to be trained in infant CPR.

“It doesn’t hit you, but then when you think about it and you still can see that little baby in your hands, it’s like, ‘Thank God that I was there, thank God that I was trained, thank God we didn’t hesitate, and just kicked into mode,” she says.