A pregnant Irish woman who was clinically dead for 30 minutes has made a full recovery and is about to give birth thanks to the heroic efforts of a paramedic team.
Catherine Curran (40) said she owes her life and that of her unborn baby to a paramedic team from the Dublin Fire Brigade and the Health Service Executive (HSE), who were honoured for their efforts at the weekend.
The mother-of-three from Malahide went without oxygen for 30 minutes and was given the last rites after suffering cardiac arrest due to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) on September 9, 2009.
She was eight weeks' pregnant when she fell out of bed and stopped breathing until an advanced paramedic team from the HSE was able to revive her heart using a defibrillator and adrenaline injection.
She survived the initial attack but her prognosis was bleak and she was left temporarily blind, paralysed and cognitively impaired due to brain damage she suffered during the ordeal.
But six months later, after extensive rehabilitation therapy, she has all but recovered.
She is now looking forward to the birth of her baby next month, whose development appears to be normal.
“My recovery is miraculous and everybody has said that,” Mrs Curran said last night.
“I was told that only 6% of people survive SADS and only 3% of those are left unscathed.”
Ms Curran's husband Gavin Curran (36) credits the swift action of the paramedic team for saving his wife and unborn child. “They did an absolutely amazing job. Every second is like hours for the potentially lethal damage to her and the baby,” he said.
He rang 999 and paramedic Joe Watson, of the Tara Street brigade control room, talked him through performing CPR over the phone, while a paramedic team rushed to their home.
They administered a defibrillator several times but Catherine continued to flatline until the combined effect of the defibrillator and injections revived her.
They then rushed her to Beaumont Hospital where she remained for two months after the ordeal.
The paramedic team, including Mr Watson and the Dublin Fire Brigade unit and HSE ambulance crew, were all given plaques for their efforts at a commendation ceremony on Saturday.
Dublin Fire Brigade assistant fire chief Ritchie Hedderman said the brigade decided to honour the team after Mr Curran wrote him a letter expressing his gratitude.
“I was so impressed by the letter that I thought the fire brigade staff should be commended,” he said. “It's the first time we've had someone write back and say: ‘Well done, you saved my wife's life' and we thought we should reward them,” he said.
“It looked like a hopeless situation. But Mrs Curran is living proof that if you can get shock into someone soon enough, their chances of recovery are excellent.”