Saved by Reddit: The NZ student who had terrifying seizure but couldn't get help

By Carla Green

Melody Madill had a seizure while on line to her partner in America. Photo / Otago Daily Times
Melody Madill had a seizure while on line to her partner in America. Photo / Otago Daily Times

A University of Otago student says she doesn't remember much of what happened, but she's "really proud" of her United States-based fiancee for using the internet to get emergency services to her door in Dunedin when she had a seizure.

Second-year anthropology student Melody Madill was on Skype on Tuesday with her fiancee, Anna Messner, who lives in Tennessee. Ms Madill started seizing, and Ms Messner was "terrified".

"The entire time I was terrified, I've never felt that terrified before," she said.

At her instigation, her brother David Neal frantically searched for a way to get help. He tried calling 911, but the operator told him they could not do anything from overseas. So he went online.

"I went on Facebook, I looked all over for a go-between, and then I went on the New Zealand subreddit and someone offered to help."

The New Zealand subreddit, a subsection of the online forum Reddit, has about 62,000 users.

Mr Neal made a post on Tuesday afternoon with the title "Mayday need someone to call 111".

After a couple of moments, Mr Neal posted again: "Help".

Soon after, Jana Hayes from Christchurch offered to call emergency services, despite some concerns that the post may have been a hoax.

"I did sit for about three minutes thinking, 'Oh man, if this isn't real, I'll get a fine or something from the ambo for a false callout'."

Ms Hayes said it wasn't the first time she had answered a call for help on Reddit.

"I'm probably over-trusting when it comes to people online. I once responded to a Reddit request of someone asking for a bedroom for a few nights as their friend was literally homeless and living in his car until he could move into his new flat. Everyone is sceptical about stuff like that but I just want to help people."

Meanwhile, Ms Madill was coming around. At first, she was confused.

"We were just talking, and then all of a sudden, she [Ms Messner] was yelling about the ambulance and people at the door, and I was really confused. And she told me I had a seizure, and apparently initially I was quite doubtful of that," Ms Madill said.

"I was so disoriented by the whole thing."

Ms Madill ended up opening the door for the paramedics.

Ms Messner, Ms Madill said, was "completely freaking out".

"She was hysterical."

Ms Madill herself was not scared by the episode until she "became lucid" and realised what was going on.

But she was proud of her fiancee.

"I'm really proud of the fact that she managed to do what she did ... It's one of the amazing things about living in such a connected world."

Ms Madill said she had been diagnosed with epilepsy when she was a child, but had not had a seizure in about a decade. "I thought I'd outgrown it."

Tests at Dunedin Hospital on Tuesday "didn't show anything", and Ms Madill said she felt much better last night.

Ms Madill and Ms Messner have been together for about a year and a half after meeting online.

Ms Madill, who grew up in Dunedin, said Ms Messner hoped to move to Dunedin soon so the two could get married.

-- Otago Daily Times. Additional reporting: New Zealand Herald

- Otago Daily Times

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 Sep 2016 10:02:14 Processing Time: 486ms