A mum whose ‘snoring’ turned out to be a sign of cardiac arrest was saved by her teenage daughter who had learned CPR at school.
Clare Doyle, 43, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, was talking at night with her then 14-year-old daughter, Melissa, on her bed.
The mother and daughter dozed off next to each other and this fluke turned out to be part of what helped keep Doyle alive.
“If Melissa hadn’t known what to do the morning I went into cardiac arrest, I would have died," she explains.
“I had worked late the night before and we were supposed to be flying to Liverpool the next day, so she was just in my room chatting away and ended up going to sleep in my bed.”
She added: “It was such a fluke but it ended up being lifesaving, because if she hadn’t spotted what was happening when she did, I probably wouldn’t be here now.”
On the morning of August 4, 2017, Doyle had a cardiac arrest, making a noise which Melissa, now 19, mistook for snoring.
But having turned over in bed the teenager noticed her mum’s face looked grey.
“I was making a snoring-type noise, although I have no memory of it, and it woke Melissa up,” Doyle, who also has a 15-year-old daughter, Maddie, explains.
“She looked at me and realised that I didn’t look right. I had gone grey and was unresponsive.
“She rang 999 and they guided her on what to do as the nearest ambulance was about 40 minutes away.
“I was deteriorating quickly and, by coincidence, Melissa had recently been taught CPR at school, so she did that while on the phone to 999.”
With her mum's heart beating in unstable and irregular patterns, Melissa’s intervention was essential.
“Melissa’s CPR maintained oxygen flowing to my brain and prevented me from suffering brain damage or worse, death, while we waited for help,” Doyle says.
When paramedics arrived, the mum-of-two was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she was admitted to ICU.
Watch: London Ambulance Service shares how you can help someone in cardiac arrest
Having failed to wake-up for three days, doctors warned the family that Doyle's chances of survival were looking slim.
But on the following Monday, she defied the odds by coming back to consciousness.
“I woke up and I felt like I’d had a really good sleep all weekend and felt really refreshed," Doyle explains.
“I had no idea what had happened, so I was shocked to find myself in a hospital bed.
“The first thing I said was, ‘Where’s my make-up bag and who’s minding the dog?’
“Everybody was like, ‘Hold on a second, we were preparing for your funeral, and you sit up talking like nothing has happened!’”
Doyle spent two weeks in hospital where she underwent a series of tests and scans to try to determine the cause of her cardiac arrest, but doctors have been unable to establish the cause.
And despite the traumatic event, she does not dwell on the prospect of it happening again.
“I don’t really worry about it. I’m quite a positive person,” she says.
“I’ve just kind of carried on and the fact that I now have a little defibrillator which was fitted into my chest helps, because I know if this did happen again that it would shock my heart.
“It also regulates my heart rhythm so it’s like a back up that I have.”
After her daughter's life-saving intervention Doyle has also learnt CPR and now volunteers as a lifesaver in the community.
“I’m so grateful that I’m still here to spend time with my girls,” she adds.
“When I think about the fact that the survival rate for people who have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital is only one in 10, I just think about what I might have missed out on, like Melissa’s first day at university and my youngest choosing her subjects.
“I consider myself incredibly lucky I got a second chance at life, and it’s all thanks to Melissa, and the others who helped me.”
Doyle is now calling for more people to be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation is supporting the Resuscitation Council UK’s Restart a Heart campaign, which teaches adults and children CPR and defibrillator awareness.
“Only around one in three people know how to perform CPR, which is a shocking statistic, so I would urge everyone to learn, because you just never know when you might need it," she says.
“Melissa would never have thought she’d need it for me.
“When she told me she’d learned CPR in school I was so pleased, because if children are taught that skill young enough then they grow up with it and have the confidence to use it.
“I am living proof of how important it is to learn CPR.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.