Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn girl Melissa who learnt CPR at school saved her mum's life after heart attack

Melissa Doyle with mum Clare
Melissa Doyle with mum Clare

By Kate Buck

A Lisburn woman saved by her teenage daughter who learnt CPR at school has urged others to train in first aid.

Clare Hamilton (38) went into cardiac arrest two months ago and would likely have died had it not been for the actions of her quick-thinking 14-year-old, Melissa Doyle.

Melissa had been taught CPR at Fort Hill Integrated College just months earlier. She recognised her mum was having a heart attack and sprang into action.

The youngster had been taught CPR by school nurse Eileen McConnell using the British Heart Foundation (BHF) NI's Call Push Rescue training kit, a free resource for post-primary schools here.

Clare credits Melissa's training with saving her life.

"Melissa had slept beside me the night before and as my alarm went off I pressed snooze to go back to sleep," she said.

"The next thing I knew I was waking up in intensive care.

"As I'd pressed snooze I had had a cardiac arrest.

"Melissa heard me making a gasping sound.

"She thought I was snoring and then she realised something was wrong.

"She tried to wake me up but couldn't. She then shouted for my husband when she realised I had stopped breathing."

Clare's husband called 999 and the operator wanted to talk him through CPR, but he couldn't do it.

"Melissa said: 'I've learnt this in school, let me do it'," explained Clare.

"So straight away she and my husband got me off the bed and onto the floor and got on with it and started doing chest compressions.

"Melissa did CPR for a good five minutes before police arrived with a defibrillator and then the ambulance arrived.

"We were told at the hospital that if Melissa hadn't bought me time and done CPR immediately I wouldn't be here now.

"I'm so proud and grateful to her.

"I dread to think what would have happened if Melissa hadn't been sleeping next to me that night. It was just meant to be.

"If it wasn't for Melissa learning CPR in school thanks to her school nurse and the BHF NI kits I might not be here today.

"It's so easy to learn and I'm so grateful that Melissa was taught it at such a young age."

Fewer than one in 10 heart attack victims survives in Northern Ireland, and new figures show that 58% of people here would be reluctant to perform CPR for fear they would do it wrong.

If a person has a heart attack in front of a bystander who starts CPR immediately, their chances of survival can double. Jayne Murray, head of BHF NI, said: "Melissa's brave actions saved her mum's life.

"She is a credit to her family and her school, and we are incredibly proud she learned these lifesaving skills through our Call Push Rescue training.

"Most people think that if they had to perform CPR it might be a stranger in the street, but actually most cardiac arrests happen at home and it's your mum, dad, child or sibling whose life will hang in the balance unless you act quickly."

School nurse Ms McConnell said: "We are so proud of Melissa and the courage she displayed."

To find out more about CPR, visit

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