Two-year-old boy makes full recovery after heart stops for 39 minutes

Nadine Bells
Good News

Zach Hilary, 2, is lucky to be alive.

On January 26th, the toddler had a heart attack in his York, UK, home.

His mother, Trudy, called 999 and performed mouth-to-mouth on her little boy. When emergency crews arrived, they performed another half hour of CPR on the boy, both at his home and in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

At the hospital, Zach was given three adrenalin shocks. His heart started beating again — 39 minutes after it stopped.

"It felt like an absolute lifetime waiting to find out if he would live or die," Trudy said. "The doctors told me that the prognosis was not good, that his heart had stopped beating for 39 minutes, and to prepare myself for the worst. It was just devastating."

Doctors told Trudy and her husband, Dave, that Zach had swelling on the brain. Brain damage was a concern. So Zach was put into a medically induced coma.

When Zach was taken off a ventilator nine days later, an MRI scan showed signs of brain damage. He was given physiotherapy and speech therapy to help him relearn the skills he had prior to the heart attack.

Remarkably, Zach recovered and has since returned home with his parents and two brothers.

"It has been amazing to watch him recover," Trudy told the Telegraph. "It has been like watching a newborn in fast motion. He has had to learn to eat, hold a cup, walk and talk all over again, all in the past few months."

The cause of the heart attack is still unknown. Trudy has been taking a resuscitation course in case it happens again.

Zach has since reunited with John Jankee and Amy Mackintosh, the paramedics who saved his life. The Yorkshire Ambulance Service gave Zach a guided tour of an ambulance.

"Both Amy and John were in tears when they saw Zach," Vince Larvin, locality director for emergency operations in North and East Yorkshire, told the York Press. "I think it was good for them to meet up with the little fellow again."

"He's back to his usual self, he loves playing on the trampoline and he's back to fighting with his brother again," Trudy told the Daily Mail.

"I asked the doctors if this was the outcome they expected and they said, 'No, it's a miracle.'"

In a show of gratitude, Zach's parents and York College Nursery, the childcare facility he attends, are teaming up to raise money for the Children's Neuroscience Ward at Leeds General Infirmary.

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