Mother performs CPR on own child after cardiac arrest


A mother in Abu Dhabi has helped to save her 11-year-old son's life after he suffered a cardiac arrest while at a swimming pool.

After Leonardo said he wasn't feeling well and started going under the surface, Martina McGeehan and others pulled him out of the water.

She then performed CPR before paramedics were able to step in and rush the boy to the hospital.

"We were tossing a ball in the pool when my son said he was not feeling well and started going under the water. With the help of my daughter and a couple at the pool, we got him out of the water. He was struggling to breathe, and his eyes were rolling back. It seemed like he was having a seizure. I immediately started performing CPR,” said Martina McGeehan.

Martina had undergone CPR training as part of her job as a physical therapist in the UK.

After the paramedics took over, they used a defibrillator to shock him and stabilise his airway on the way to the hospital. 

Further investigations revealed Leonardo had a congenital heart defect called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, caused by an abnormality in the heart's electrical pathways. He was then shifted to Burjeel Medical City to be treated by Dr. Christopher Duke, Consultant Pediatric Cardiologist.

"Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome is a fairly rare disorder that affects 1-3 in 1,000 people worldwide. In simple terms, the patient had an extra piece of muscle inside his heart that caused abnormal electricity. Children with this syndrome usually present with palpitations, and it is very rare for such patients to suffer a cardiac arrest," said Dr. Duke.

"In my career spanning over 20 years, this is only the second case I have seen where a patient with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome suffered a cardiac arrest. We decided to perform a pediatric radiofrequency ablation to treat the condition."

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