When 3-year-old Waylon Saunders arrived at the hospital, he was already legally dead and had been for a while.
Found face-down in an icy backyard swimming pool, the Ontario toddler’s body temperature was so low that paramedics’ thermometers couldn’t get a reading, and he had no pulse.
Nevertheless, a team at Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital in Petrolia, Ontario performed CPR for 3 hours without stopping, while simultaneously using other methods to warm his frozen body.
There’s a classic scene you can watch in many different films and TV, from Gray’s Anatomy to Casino Royale, where CPR is attempted and after a minute, the person, whether Gray or James Bond, stops or is pulled away from pounding on a patient’s chest, unwilling to accept they are no longer revivable.
Fortunately for Waylon they didn’t stop, and after 3 hours of compressing his chest to artificially pump blood to his brain and other organs, Waylon’s heart was restarted and kept on keeping on.
“They had a cycle of people providing CPR in Petrolia. They had people warming him with many different techniques,” said Dr. Janice Tijssen, director of the pediatric critical care unit at Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario where Waylon was rushed after his heart restarted.
“There was a big team helping him then, keeping him comfortable as his organs started to heal. Then allowing him to wake up. He’s exceeded all expectations,” Tijssen told CBC news.
In the 2020 European Championships, Danish footballer Christan Erikson collapsed from cardiac arrest on the pitch, shocking the crowd to a hush. Denmark’s captain Simon Kjaer recognized what was happening, secured his teammate’s neck, make sure he wasn’t swallowing his tongue and began performing CPR while the paramedics arrived who then carried on for 15 minutes before Erikson could be removed from the pitch. Erikson’s heart was stopped for 78 minutes in total.
If one didn’t know anything about CPR, someone watching the game or watching little Waylon be rushed into the hospital might have been certain they were never going to wake up. Movies and TV either show CPR working after less than a minute, or never working, but in reality CPR can revive people who have had their heart stopped for tens of minutes.
Waylon’s mother Gillian Burnett said the team holds a piece of her heart for all time for their determination.
CPR is not a complicated procedure and can be learned and practiced in simple courses, often offered by local schools and firehouses. It’s possible that Kjaer saved Erikson’s life by starting CPR so early, and it’s possible you could save someone’s life too if you’re the only one who knows how to perform it.
LISTEN to Tijssen explain how they saved Waylon’s life.
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