The quick actions of a teenager saved the life of her mother who suffered a cardiac arrest. In a remarkable series of coincidences, Clare Doyle’s daughter Melissa, who had fallen asleep alongside her mother, performed CPR which she had learned in school.
Clare, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland, hath heaped praise on her daughter who was just 14 when she put her skills into action. Her daughter’s quick-thinking inspired Clare, 43, who works at a dental sugery, to become a community responder offering support to emergency services.
Also mum to Maddie, 15, Clare is now calling for more people to be taught CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), saying: “If Melissa hadn’t known what to do the morning I went into cardiac arrest, I would have died.
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“I had worked late the night before and we were supposed to be flying to Liverpool the next day, so she was just in my room chatting away and ended up going to sleep in my bed. It was such a fluke but it ended up being lifesaving, because if she hadn’t spotted what was happening when she did, I probably wouldn’t be here now.”
Clare told how she suffered the cardiac arrest in August 2017, and made a noise which Melissa, now 19, mistook for snoring. She turned over in bed to see her mum’s face looked grey.
Clare said: “I was making a snoring-type noise, although I have no memory of it and it woke Melissa up. She looked at me and realized that I didn’t look right. I had gone gray and was unresponsive.
“She rang 999 and they guided her on what to do as the nearest ambulance was about 40 minutes away. I was deteriorating quickly and, by coincidence, Melissa had recently been taught CPR at school, so she did that while on the phone to 999.”
With Clare’s heart beating in unstable and irregular patterns, Melissa’s intervention was essential. She said: “Melissa’s CPR maintained oxygen flowing to my brain and prevented me from suffering brain damage or worse, death, while we waited for help.”
When paramedics arrived, Clare was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she was admitted to ICU but she failed to wake-up for three days, with doctors warning them that her chances of survival were looking slim.
But she defied medics by suddenly regaining consciousness. She said: “I had no idea what had happened, so I was shocked to find myself in a hospital bed.”
Clare spent two weeks in hospital undergoing tests to determine the cause of her cardiac arrest, which remains a mystery. She said: “I have gone through a lot of tests and MRI scans, but my cardiologist hasn’t determined what caused the cardiac arrest. It was just one of those things.”
Now, Clare is looking to the future and has taken her daughter’s lead by learning CPR and volunteering as a lifesaver in the community. She is now supporting the Resuscitation Council UK’s Restart a Heart campaign, which teaches adults and children CPR and defibrillator awareness, culminating in a worldwide training day led by ambulance services across the UK on October 16.
Clare has also joined the Mid Down and Lisburn Community First Responders, which helps with 999 emergencies, when the ambulance may not arrive in time to save a life. She stressed: “We do need more people to come onboard and be a responder, so come and join us and save lives. I am living proof of how important it is to learn CPR.”