KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville man is hoping to reach a nurse to personally thank her. He says she stepped in when his wife really needed it.

The nurse gave Rocky Auton’s wife Shelby CPR – and a second chance.

Shelby is at UT Medical Center in what her husband calls serious condition. He doesn’t know the nurse who intervened, but he does know she granted them extra time.

“I just want to say thank you very much for giving me a second chance to say hi to my wife again. And to tell her that I love her,” Rocky said. “I know she’s in very serious condition still, but thank you so much for helping her, and giving me this second chance to say goodbye to her.”

Rocky is hoping that message makes it to the nurse who helped his wife. She was eating lunch at a Knoxville Cracker Barrel with coworkers last week when Rocky says she had a seizure.

“She had problems breathing, and I guess she wasn’t getting enough oxygen to the brain, and she fell out on the floor in the middle of Cracker Barrel,” Rocky explained. “Out of nowhere this nurse, this hero comes out, and she performed CPR on my wife and kind of gave her a second chance.”

Shelby is at UT Medical Center in the ICU. It’s not her first tough medical battle.

“June 28th of last year she had been diagnosed with SARS COVID-19. She had a severe case of it because she didn’t get the vaccine fast enough. She was in the hospital for over 170 days and on the ventilator for over 150 days, that’s why we had to go to Northwestern Hospital for a lung transplant,” said Rocky.

He believes that is related to what she’s facing now.

“Most definitely, yes, it had to do with her throat issues and the narrowing of her throat where the ventilator had been in there for 150 days,” he said.

Rocky says he’s broken by how much Shelby has been through recently. Still, he’s not losing sight of one reason to be grateful – and the off-duty nurse who made it happen.

“It means the world to me,” Rocky said of being granted extra time. “I just let her know how I feel.”

The family is still deciding whether to go back to Northwestern in Chicago; where Shelby got her lung transplant. She would need to be airlifted, and that would cost $19,000. A fundraiser has been started to help pay for emergency transport.