Schoolboy, 6, with fear of loud noises 'died' for 33 minutes after thunderstorm triggered heart attack
Callum Bryan's heart stopped due to adrenaline rush caused by fear
He was put in medically induced coma for five days to help his body recover from the trauma
13:01 GMT, 13 June 2012
A six-year-old boy with a fear of
loud noises 'died' for more than half an hour after a 'petrifying'
thunderstorm triggered a heart attack.
Callum Bryan had just been picked up
from school when his heart suddenly stopped as he was sitting his
mother's car, leaving him 'dead' for 33 minutes.
His lips and face even started turning purple as his body was deprived of oxygen.
Doctors believe the attack was caused by a sudden adrenaline rush brought on by fear of the noise of the thunder and hail.
Callum Bryan, 6, was 'dead' for 33 minutes after suffering a heart attack, but is now making a good recovery
His mother performed life-saving CPR before he was taken to hospital. He was put into a medically induced coma to help his body recover, and for a while doctors feared he may have been permanently brain-damaged.
He is now home, but needs round-the-clock supervision in case he suffers a similar episode.
Medics have compared his near-death experience to that of Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch during an FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham in March.
Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest and his heart stopped beating naturally for 78 minutes.
Callum's mother Jayne, 41, from Great Barr, Birmingham, said the youngster had been in good health but had always been afraid of loud noises and was 'petrified' on May 15, when she picked him up from Greenholm Primary School in Great Barr, during a thunderstorm.
The mother-of-three said: 'He's always been quite scared of anything loud. At family weddings we have to give him ear plugs and he hates anything like drilling or even rain coming down on the conservatory roof.
'That day I picked him up, he was absolutely petrified. There was hail, lightning and thunder, so I ran across the playground to get him into the car as quick as I could.
'But when we got there, he was absolutely
panicked. He kept saying, “where's my seat”, because I had moved it to
the front of the car.
'I dashed to get it and when I
got to the back of the car again, he was slumped over.
'In my mind, I
thought he was just messing about and I was getting quite annoyed with
him. I just picked him up to put him in the seat, but my
daughter Nicole screamed, “No mum, he's ill”.
'I looked at him and could see he wasn't
breathing and was turning blue.'
Slow recovery: Callum was in an induced coma, before slowly getting back to normal following his heart attack
Thanks sis: Callum pictured with his older sister Nicole, 18, who helped perform CPR on the youngster
Mrs Bryan, who is a trained lifeguard, began cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from the back of her Citroen C4 car, while her 18-year-old daughter called 999.
had been years since I had done any CPR training but it all came
flooding back to me,' said Mrs Bryan, who is married to maintenance engineer
'The staff in the ambulance control room were amazing,
talking me through every step. But Callum’s lips and face started to
turn purple and I became hysterical.'
Mrs Bryan recalled how the 15 minutes passing between calling the ambulance and Callum arriving at hospital “felt like hours”. She said at one point, daughter Nicole, who had no first aid training, had to take over the CPR with control room staff directing her what to do.
She added: 'Alot of people have said to me they wouldn't have been able to do what I did, but I just went into auto-pilot. I knew he needed me.'
Callum was whisked to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where staff continued to battle to save his life.
was in a side room with a nurse who was trying to calm me down, but I
was in bits, I kept asking if he was going to die,' added Mrs Bryan.
convinced I was going to lose him, but then they managed to start his
heart beating again. I was told his heart had stopped beating for 33 minutes, I couldn’t believe it.'
SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME: A CONDITION THAT STRIKES WITHOUT WARNING
Cardiac arrhythmias, or disruptions to the heart working properly, are a common cause of this syndrome.
Sometimes there are no warning signs, but in other cases people can experience dizziness, fainting or fainting spells.
Sudden loss of consciousness or death often occurs during physical exercise or emotional upset.
Research has indicated that about 500 deaths a
year in the UK are because of sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, but it is very rare in children.
Inheritance may be a factor.
family was told the devastating news that Callum would have to be
induced into a coma as his body had suffered such a horrific ordeal.
said he may never come out of the coma, or even if he did there was a
good chance he could have suffered serious brain damage,' said Mrs Bryan.
'I was absolutely distraught, but when
they told me he could be brain damaged I thought, I'll accept that – as
long as he pulls through that's all that matters.'
day later doctors stopped the medication to bring Callum out of the
coma – leaving his parents in an agonising waiting game to see if he
would wake up.
'I sat next to him holding his hand and talking to him
softly, telling him it was time to wake up now as he had been asleep
for too long,' added Mrs Bryan
'I said “come on sleepy head… if you wake up we can all go to Disneyland”.'
The mention of Mickey Mouse seemed to do the trick and Callum slowly opened his eyes.
he squeezed my hand I broke down in tears,' she added. 'We were asking
him questions and he would blink responses. Everyone was amazed that he
was alert and seemed to understand what was going on.'
after becoming violently sick and struggling to breathe on his own due
to fluid on his lungs, staff put the youngster back into a coma in a bid
to give his body a rest from the trauma.
'It was the longest five
days of my life,' said Mrs Bryan. 'But even though he was so ill, had an
overwhelming feeling he would be alright.'
Mrs Bryan said her husband Andy, 'went to pieces' during their son's hospital stay, while older brother Kurtis, 15, could not bare to return to the family home where he shared a bedroom with Callum and instead stayed with his grandparents.
Six days after the
heart attack, Callum was once again brought out of his drug-induced coma
– and the family were at last 'overjoyed' to hear him speak his first words.
Mrs Bryan said: 'He whispered that he wanted to go home,' she said.
'Those were the best words I have ever heard.'
Medics have compared Callum's experience to that of Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch during a game against Tottenham in March
Back home at last: Callum was all smiles when he finally left hospital and returned home with his mother Jayne
spent a total 17 days in hospital. Each of his classmates sent him a get well card and picture, and his teachers visited him on the ward.
Mrs Bryan said his recovery has been a 'miracle', but tests have so far failed to show why
Callum, who regularly plays football and swims, would have suffered a
His consultant, Dr Vinay Bhole, at Birmingham Children's Hospital, believes he may have cheated the condition,
Sudden Death Syndrome. He also believes that Callum became so distressed by the loud thunderstorm, that his body was overwhelmed by a huge rush of adrenaline, and this may have triggered the attack.
Callum is now due to return to hospital on Friday, after doctors “spotted something of interest” on his MRI scan.
Mrs Bryan added that no-one else in the family had suffered a similar event, but after Callum's heart attack, she discovered that her uncle had also suffered heart attacks as a child. Brian Gibbs, who also lives in Great Barr, is now well and aged 71.
Now back at home, Mrs Bryan has been forced to quit her
part-time job as a receptionist to home school Callum as medics have
told her he must be with someone with CPR training around-the-clock.
The family have now set up a charity, Callum’s
Cardiac Fund, urging people to donate unwanted mobile phones in a bid to raise 2,000 to fund a potentially life-saving defibrillator at his school. They also want to raise funds to fund equipment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.