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Mom and daughter in hospital room

Mom uses CPR to save child’s life, doctors discover hole in heart

I got trained in CPR because my job as a child care provider required it. But I never dreamed that the first time I actually used it would be on my own daughter.

It all happened just a few weeks ago, when my 12-year-old daughter, Kylie, stopped by the daycare center where I work on her way home from school. She often does this, because she loves to play with the babies and toddlers. And the feeling is mutual, as Kylie is very popular with the kids and my co-workers.

My daughter collapsed

It seemed like a typical day until my boss noticed that Kylie had collapsed. At first I thought maybe she had tripped and fell, and that I would find her sitting there crying. But she wasn’t making a sound. She had a very vacant stare in her eyes, and it was obvious that something was really, really wrong. I kept yelling at her to come back to us and was thinking in my head that this just cannot be happening.

I told a co-worker to call 911 while I started CPR. At first I was handling breaths and my friend was doing compressions, until the mom in me kicked in and I just started doing it all myself. We were in the process of setting up the automated external defibrillator (AED) when the paramedics arrived and took over.

We were shocked at what the doctors found

Once Kylie was transported to Children’s Wisconsin, the doctors discovered an atrial septal defect (ASD), which means she had a big hole in her heart. We were completely shocked as Kylie had never had any heart-related troubles before, and then the news came that she would have to have surgery.

While we were understandably scared for our daughter, our experience with the staff in the Herma Heart Institute — from the nurses who followed Kylie throughout her time in the hospital, to Ronald Woods, MD, who performed the surgery — was fantastic. If she had to go through this, I am so thankful it was at Children’s Wisconsin.

It’s all possible because of CPR

Kylie is going to be sidelined for a while, which will be tough because she is such an active girl, but we all feel very lucky that things turned out the way they did. Soon enough she will be back doing the things she loves and living the life of a normal, happy kid.

And it’s all possible because of CPR. It’s really big in my family — my husband actually teaches CPR as part of his job and actually trained some of my co-workers who helped take care of Kylie in those first critical minutes. Kylie has also been certified, along with her siblings.

But anybody can do it. And should. Because of those three hours I spent learning CPR, I now have a lifetime of memories with my daughter to look forward to.