Simple skill saves a little life

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MIRACLE BABY: Natalee Trent, all smiles thanks to CPR. PICTURE/SUPPLIED
MIRACLE BABY: Natalee Trent, all smiles thanks to CPR. PICTURE/SUPPLIED

Kaitaia couple Michelle and Nathan Trent have no doubt that learning a simple skill that can save lives was the best thing they ever did.

Four months ago their 14-month-old daughter Natalee wandered down to a swollen pond, fell in and almost drowned. Nathan, who had learned CPR through his forestry work, began trying to revive her, while a paramedic who was passing the address heard the 111 call and went to to assist.

Once Natalee's airways were secured and her heartbeat strong, she was transferred to Kaitaia Hospital via ambulance in a Status 1 (critical and life-threatening) condition.

A multi-disciplinary team stabilised her and assessed her condition before transferring her to Auckland's Starship Hospital, where she spent nine days in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, in an induced coma to give her brain time to heal.

She regained consciousness eight days later, and the following day was transferred to the High Dependency Unit, and then to the general paediatric ward, but was returned to the High Dependency Unit after suffering "seizure activity".

Once stabilised with anti-seizure medication she was moved to the neuro ward for intense daily input from speech therapists, physiotherapists, a paediatrician, neurologists and dietitians.

Mr Trent stayed with his daughter, assisting in her recovery by encouraging her to walk and play in between intensive rehabilitation therapy sessions. She had to re-learn skills such as crawling and walking, and tune her fine motor-skill development.

Natalee was finally discharged on April 7, 36 days after she fell into the pond.

Mrs Trent, a registered nurse at Kaitaia Hospital, said she had some advice for all families.

"As nurses we often care for others, but it is equally important that our own families know what to do in the event of an emergency," she said. "Make sure your families are first aid-trained, including CPR. Learning a simple skill to save a life is one of the best things we can do.

"Our reality could have been very different, and now I have a sense of security for my children, that they know what to do. It is something positive for them to help take away the fear that they have from such a scary experience."

The family's miracle was that Natalee was thriving, had not suffered brain damage, and no longer required anti-seizure medication.

- Northland Age

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