Woman saves newborn baby's life by performing CPR on kitchen table
A YOUNG Galway woman has told how she helped save her baby cousin’s life when, at just 7 weeks old, he went into cardiac arrest shortly after a stay in hospital.
Karen Hurney (24) from Claregalway bravely performed CPR on little Jonah Murphy when his parents discovered he stopped breathing in the early hours of the morning on September 12, 2015.
The miracle baby, born with half a heart, is the first tot with his rare condition to survive home CPR in Irish history.
Jonah, described as the family’s “little super hero”, was not expected to survive but has defied all odds. He’s now two years old thanks, in part, to his big cousin who said the pair have a special bond after the “life-changing” incident.
Ms Hurney said brave Jonah suffered brain stem injury due to oxygen deprivation so the family have launched a fundraising appeal to help towards recovery and his 24 hour care.
She has also urged others to become CPR-certified, stating: “30 seconds can make the difference”.
She told independent.ie: “He stopped breathing (around 5am in his cousin's home after weeks at Our Lady’s Children’s hospital in Crumlin). His dad (Jonathan) tried to give him CPR but he was in an absolute panic because obviously his child wasn’t breathing.
“I saw a little lifeless baby on my kitchen table. I just went into survival mode. I knew how to do CPR. I said I need to go help this baby.
“I was oddly calm. I didn’t acknowledge that it was my little cousin. If I did, I don’t think I could have stayed calm. I just thought of him as a baby who needed help.
“To me, doing compressions with two fingers was hard because he had a scar on his chest from surgery.”
“It was a shock to me (afterwards),” she added. “I was so worried thinking: could I have done more?
“They (his parents) were in absolute bits. My mother was throwing holy water around. They were screaming, roaring crying. She (Jonah’s mother Edel) was so startled. It was her first child. She was crying, begging him to be ok.”
The 24-year-old production operator who was trained in First Aid by Galway City Civil Defence said she did compressions on little Jonah’s chest using two fingers as the ambulance service talked her through it down the phone.
Jonah, who underwent his first surgery for hypoplastic right heart syndrome when he was just four days old, was then rushed to University Hospital Galway before being transferred to ICU in Crumlin where doctors performed life-saving treatments.
The young baby was deemed ineligible for further surgeries on ethical grounds and was sent home for palliative care in January 2016.
Baby Jonah, however, had plans to live.
Ms Hurney said: “We were told he couldn’t survive but he did. He’s the only baby with his condition who has survived home CPR.
“(When he was sent home) we said we’d do everything we can to help him. They (doctors) couldn’t believe he taught himself to swallow (pureed fruit). He’s so determined. He’s figuring out how to put himself onto things. He loves watching his favourite shows on Baby TV. I’ve never seen a child laugh as hard at it.”
She added: “I have never ever lost hope in him. I just have 110% faith that he will survive. I’m obviously very close to him now. It’s a life-changing experience to do that and to see him now.”
Jonah still can’t swallow water and needs to be fed through his stomach. He requires 24 hour, round-the clock care and will need further surgeries as he grows.
Ms Hurney has urged others to take First Aid courses and become certified in CPR so they too can act quickly in an emergency.
She said: “A doctor in Crumlin congratulated me on (the CPR). He said it was a big thing to take on.
“It should be in primary school that you learn how to do it. Thirty seconds can make the difference. They might not survive but you’ll know that you did all you could. It’s very rare they’ll teach you how to do CPR on a baby. I think everyone should learn how to do it.”
A close friend of Jonah’s family is raising much-needed funds by hosting a family fun Christmas party in the Clayton Hotel just outside of Galway City on November 26.
Tickets for the ‘Jingle Bells for Jonah’ event cost €10 per child or €30 for a family of four children, and are available from Sweeney’s Pharmacy in Claregalway village outside Galway city.