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Norwood brothers help save woman’s life

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NORWOOD — Along with being a full-time sophomore at St. Lawrence University, Canton, and a lifeguard at Norwood Beach, 19-year-old Joshua T. Eng works for elderly Norwood residents, which he has done for about five years.

Lawn mowing, painting, small construction jobs and landscaping are some of the chores Mr. Eng takes care of these days for Nancy E. Demo, 72.

After his shift at the beach on the first of this month, Mr. Eng made his way to Mrs. Demo’s house. And on that Thursday, Mr. Eng did more than her chores — he saved her life.

“I knocked on her door and was standing outside for about 10 minutes,” he said. “I heard the TV on and the dog barking and the van was in the driveway, so I figured she was home.”

Mr. Eng said he thought something was wrong, so he entered the house and found Mrs. Demo in a chair and not looking well.

“I asked her if she needed anything, got her some water and left my cellphone number with her so she could call me if she needed anything while I was working around her house,” he said.

After finishing up with the work about 4:30 p.m., he went back inside to find Mrs. Demo disoriented and slurring her words. She was refusing to let him take her to the hospital, he said.

Mr. Eng said Mrs. Demo hadn’t eaten all day and wasn’t drinking, either.

“I was sick all through the night that Wednesday with stomach dry heaves, so I figured it was a stomach bug that would go away,” Mrs. Demo said. “I just kept refusing the help.”

Mr. Eng said that he was scared for her and that he knew from his life support training that she needed help. He left some water, the phone with his numbers, and her medicine close to her chair and went home.

“Thank God he didn’t leave it at that,” Mrs. Demo said. “He went home and told his family what was going on and about an hour later, I heard the door.”

Mr. Eng returned after dinner with his mother, Theresa A., and his brother, Daniel A., an emergency medical technician with the Potsdam Volunteer Rescue Squad.

“The boys knew enough that she needed help,” Mrs. Eng said. “I figured if they couldn’t talk her into going to the hospital, I could, woman to woman.”

Daniel Eng said he did an evaluation and checked Mrs. Demo’s vitals and knew that she needed further medical attention. The three took Mrs. Demo to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Potsdam.

As an EMT, Daniel Eng knew how to get them right into the ER and into an examination room, where a doctor was by Mrs. Demo’s side within minutes.

“The doctor took some tests and read the results to us, stating that I was in pretty tough shape,” Mrs. Demo said. “They called a surgeon in.”

Mrs. Demo had suffered a blockage in the area of her colon that needed to be removed, and she also needed a hernia repaired.

“It was all very serious stuff that I was totally unaware of,” she said.

Mrs. Demo said the surgeon was adamant about immediate surgery and told her she didn’t have much time to make decisions.

She went into surgery about 11 p.m. and didn’t get out until 2:30 a.m., but the Eng family was still there waiting for her, making sure she wasn’t alone since her family couldn’t be there.

“These people are very comforting and reassuring,” Mrs. Demo said of the Eng family. “I don’t think I was frightened. I felt pretty secure.”

Mrs. Demo’s husband, Richard C., died in 2009. Her two daughters, Belinda Quinn, Buffalo, and Jennifer Tracy, Rochester, drove up as soon as they heard what had happened. Her son, Richard C. Jr., Massena, also got to the hospital as soon as he could.

“Theresa (Eng) sat right by my bed through recovery and intensive care and never left until my girls got there,” Mrs. Demo said.

Mrs. Demo was released from the hospital the following Monday and said she’s been doing much better since the surgery.

She said living on her own isn’t easy, but the Eng boys are her lifeline.

Reflecting on the incident, she said she saw “deep and abiding love.”

“I never anticipated strangers to reach out like that,” Mrs. Demo said. “As long as our world is in the hands of people like Josh and Dan, we really have nothing to worry about.”

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