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On January 26, 2-year-old Zach Hilary had a heart attack. For 10 desperate minutes his mother Trudy performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before paramedics arrived. He stopped breathing. It was many precious minutes more before Zach's heart started beating again. In all, his heart stopped for 39 minutes. It took three adrenaline shocks to his heart to get it pumping again.
After being out for so long, Zach's parents had little hope that their son would ever recover. But Zach has proven how resilient children can be. He had to re-learn how to walk, talk, and eat. "It has been amazing to watch him recover,” Trudy says. “It has been like watching a newborn in fast motion."
During Zach's ordeal his doctors found he had swelling on the brain. He was placed in a medically-induced coma while doctors watched for brain damage -- almost certain considering how long his heart had stopped. An MRI scan later revealed that he had suffered brain damage.
It took a lot of physical and speech therapy, but Zach is now acting more like a regular 2-year-old again. Doctors still don't know what caused the heart attack.
I never like hearing about children falling victim to seemingly random medical tragedies. How terrifying for Zach's parents to see their toddler have a heart attack. Why their child, why that?!? But I think the horror and confusion would melt over the months as they watch their son get healthier. We have to treat small children gently -- but it's astonishing how strong they can be.
Have you ever known a toddler or small child who had a heart attack?
Image via LisaW123/Flickr