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Family's mission to save lives
2:40pm Monday 13th August 2012 in News
THE parents of a four-year-old girl who miraculously survived a cardiac arrest are on a mission to get potentially life-saving defibrillators into schools.
Chris and Ruth Helm, of Orchard Street, Northwich, were awakened by their daughter Leilah crying out in her sleep during the early hours of Monday, February 27.
After Chris found Leilah struggling to breathe, former nurse Ruth administered CPR and emergency services arrived within six minutes.
Ruth, aged 41, said: “Our journey to the hospital seemed to take forever. It was a journey to the unknown. We had no idea what we would be faced with when we got there. I presumed the worst.”
Leilah was taken to Leighton Hospital, sedated, put on a ventilator and placed on a special cooling mattress to prevent swelling to her brain.
The next day she was able to breathe independently and doctors diagnosed her with a genetic heart defect called Long QT Syndrome.
The incident prompted the family to found the LQTS Fund, initially for a defibrillator for Leilah. Ruth soon found they were overwhelmed with support.
Ruth said: “People just kept on giving money and we soon had more than enough for Leilah, so we wanted to get them for local schools.”
The LQTS Fund has already paid for defibrillators for The County High School in Leftwich, UCAN and Wincham Community Primary School.
“What happened to Leilah just proves it can happen to anyone. We have had no history of anything like this in our family and she could be the first to have it,” added Ruth.
“If it saves one life it would be worth it.”
Leilah is now on medication and doing well, but the condition is a constant presence in the family’s life.
The youngster will never be able to take part in competitive sport and Chris and Ruth were told to remove balloons from the home in case they burst and startle her.
“I’m not ashamed to admit I still have a cry two or three times a week but we have to keep reminding ourselves how lucky she is to be alive,” added Ruth.
To donate to LQTS Fund or to organise a fundraising event email email@example.com For more information visit the group’s facebook page at facebook.com/LQTSFund.
- The heart charity Sudden Arrhythmic Death in the Young UK (SADS) say up to 270 children die from sudden cardiac arrests in British schools each year, but there is no requirement for defibrillators to be kept on their premises.
- As many as one in 500 hundred children may suffer from cardiomyopathy, or conditions such as Long QT, Brugada, CPVT and Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome. The first sign of one of these conditions can be sudden cardiac arrest.
- Sports activities can exacerbate cardiac problems. Blunt blows to the chest, such as that of a football or rugby ball can cause Commotio cordis, resulting in cardiac arrest.
- Other factors besides heart disease and heart attack can cause cardiac arrest including respiratory arrest, electrocution, choking and trauma.
For more information visit sadsuk.org.uk