Belfast Telegraph

Brave Madison to the rescue as dad suffers a seizure

By Donna Deeney

The quick thinking of a four-year-old girl could have saved her father's life when she raised the alarm after he suffered an epileptic seizure.

Little Madison Duffy was at home with her epileptic father Austin while her mother Gillian left to go into town for an appointment.

But her dad went into a seizure with no warning - leaving him with no chance to call for help.

Gillian said her husband wore an alarm on his wrist for emergency situations.

"When it is pressed, it sets off a call for assistance, but on Tuesday he went into a seizure before he got the chance to raise the alarm," she said.

"He was alone with Madison, because I had an appointment that took me away from home for a while. But Madison kept her head and pressed the alarm on her daddy's wrist and told the lady at the other end to get the police.

"She was able to tell the woman that she was with her daddy by herself and that he was in a fit and needed help, but she got the police mixed up with the paramedics.

"I was then contacted and came straight home and as I arrived the police pulled up, but by this time Austin had come out of the seizure himself, although he was disoriented and exhausted.

"The policemen came in and checked that Austin was all right. They told Madison she was a very clever and brave girl."

The Strabane mother said she and husband Austin made the decision to educate Madison about her father's condition from an early age - a decision they both now agree was exactly the right thing to do.

"Austin's epilepsy came back when he was 17, after a few years of being free from it, and unfortunately it is progressively getting worse as he gets older," said Gillian. "So when we had Madison we both agreed we wouldn't try and hide it from her.

"It can be quite frightening, even for an adult to witness someone having an epileptic fit and I know adults who have panicked when Austin has had a seizure.

"Madison has grown up watching me deal with her father when he is fitting and we have explained in ways she can understand what is happening.

"This time around Austin had his seizure in a chair but he could just as easily have fallen and hit his head so things could have been so much worse for us but thanks to Madison doing exactly the right thing at the right time, everything worked out. She is a clever wee girl and kept her head, instead of running away. She was able to get help for her daddy and we are so, so proud of her."

Epilepsy is a neurological condition, which means it affects the brain, but is also physical as sufferers often have seizures. Common triggers include tiredness, stress and alcohol. The most obvious kind are those that involve often violent convulsions. If someone shows signs of a seizure the key things are to support their head and ensure that there are no harmful objects nearby to cause injury to the sufferer.

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