Miracle boy, 2, survives after his heart stops beating for 39 MINUTES and family told to prepare for the worst
16:55 GMT, 8 June 2012
A two-year-old boy has survived after his heart stopped beating for 39 minutes and his family was told to prepare for the worst.
Zach Hilary, from York, was given half an hour of gruelling CPR before being moved into intensive care, while his terrified parents hoped for a miracle.
As her son clung on to life, his distraught mother, Trudy, 40, could only pray that he would not be brain damaged when he emerged from an induced coma.
Terrifying time: Zach Hilary was given half an hour of CPR before being moved into intensive care, while his family prayed he would come round safely
The mother of three was overjoyed when the resilient child gradually relearned all his skills as he fast-tracked through his baby stages back to the full abilities of a two-year-old.
She said: 'It has been amazing to watch him recover. It has been like watching a newborn in fast motion.
'He’s had to learn to eat, hold a cup, walk and talk all over again, all in the past few months.'
Zach’s amazing story began on January 26 when Ms Hilary left her son watching TV on the sofa and returned seconds later to find him collapsed on the floor and groaning.
Picking him up, Ms Hilary realised he had turned grey, and frantically called 999, performing mouth-to-mouth on her son for ten panicked minutes until the paramedics arrived.
Emergency services rushed Zach to York Hospital where he was given shocks of adrenaline to start his heart again.
Full-time mother Ms Hilary said: 'I know it was a long time but it felt like an absolute lifetime waiting to find out if he would live or die.
He said Mummy! Mother Trudy was thrilled to watch her son learn to talk, walk and eat again
'The doctors told me that the prognosis wasn’t good, that his heart had stopped beating for 39 minutes, and to prepare myself for the worst.
'It was just devastating.'
But four months on, the toddler is back to his old self and enjoying being at home with his father, 37-year-old IT consultant Dave, his mother and his brothers Jake, five, and six-month-old Scott.
Ms Hilary added: 'I asked the doctors if this was the outcome they expected and they told me: “No, it’s a miracle”.'
When she found her son on the floor, she thought he was messing around. 'My initial thought that he had choked on a piece of Lego.
'I rang 999 but I was so panicky that the operator had to tell me to calm down because she couldn’t understand what I was saying. It’s just a parent’s worst nightmare.
Recovered: Zach was given three adrenaline shocks before his heart started beating again
'While I was on the phone, Zach stopped breathing. They talked me through mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions, which I did for about ten minutes.
'They paramedics arrived and continued CPR for about five minutes in the house, then took him into the ambulance and were shocking him. Then they rushed him to York Hospital in the ambulance, which took about ten minutes.
'It was surreal. My husband Dave was on a training course in Leeds so he met us at the hospital. The doctors rushed Zach into an emergency room and began working on him.
'They gave him adrenaline shocks three times and finally his heart started beating again.
'But the consultant said to me he wasn’t sure Zach would survive. He told me: “His heart hasn’t been beating for 39 minutes, that’s a long time”.'
Zach was moved to Leeds General Infirmary where he was put into an induced coma and placed in intensive care as doctors battled to reduce the swelling on his brain.
His mother said: 'I remember looking at his notes and seeing the words “Prognosis poor. Prepare family for the worst”. It was horrific.'
Nine days later, doctors took Zach off the ventilator, but an MRI scan revealed that his brain had been damaged in the area that controls motor skills, meaning his speech and movement were affected, and he did not recognise people.
'It was like looking at a shell of my little boy,' she said.
Lifesavers: Zach with mother Trudie and paramedics John Jankee and Amy Mackintosh
'But he had physiotherapy and speech therapy and one day after about two and a half weeks after he had been taken off the ventilator, he looked at me and I knew he recognised me and he went: “M”, like he was trying to say “Mama”. It was brilliant, it felt like such a breakthrough.
'The doctors told me that I saved his life by performing the CPR, as the first minute after the heart stops beating is the most crucial.'
On February 27, just over a month after his heart had stopped beating, Zach was able to go home.
His proud mother added: 'Zach is almost back to how he was. He’s even back to nursery. It’s lovely.
'He’s back to his usual self – he loves playing on the trampoline – and he’s back to fighting with his brother again.'
The downside is that the cause of the heart attack remains a mystery.
Ms Hilary said: 'They discussed the possibility of it being a sudden death syndrome.
Heartwarming tale: Zach began to speak just a two-and-a-half weeks after he was taken off the ventilator
Yesterday, Zach and his family were reunited with the paramedics who helped to save his life – Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic Amy Mackintosh and emergency medical technician John Jankee.
Father Mr Hilary said: 'This is the first time I have met them. Obviously it’s quite emotional to meet the people who saved your son’s life.'
Ms Mackintosh praised Ms Hilary's efforts, saying: 'What his mother did was vital. It’s the first child I have been to in six years that I have actively had to resuscitate. It’s fairly unusual.'
Mr Jankee added: 'It was very emotional – as soon as I saw him I had tears in my eyes.'
A spokesperson for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: 'It’s fantastic news that Zach is doing so well. We are always pleased to hear of a good outcome and we have passed the good news on to the staff who were involved in his care on the day.'