A teenage mum has recounted the terrifying moment she saved her baby girl’s life when she stopped breathing for five minutes after a seizure caused by constipation.
Chloe Cook, 19, knew that her then one-year-old daughter, Lily-May, had been having problems going to the toilet since she was born, but she never thought her constipation could almost cost her her life.
She said that Lily-May stopped going to the toilet for two days and her stomach became swollen that escalated to a potentially fatal seizure.
Reliving the moment, Chloe said she and Lily-May went to see her nan, Kelly Marshall, 36, in Caernarfon, and told her she was worried as Lily-May hadn’t been to the toilet for a while and her temperature was really high.
They called up NHS, the non-emergency number, and the one who answered advised them to take Lily-May to hospital if nothing happened within a couple of days.
However, on the evening of Easter weekend in April last year, Lily-May was crying in pain as her stomach pains intensified.
“I was in the lounge back at mine and I could hear her whimpering. Then it just went quiet,” remembered Chloe.
“I ran through to her bedroom where she was on her own and thought she might be sleeping, but then I saw she was clenching her fists and shaking.
“That’s when I knew something was terribly wrong. She wasn’t breathing, had gone blue, was totally still and looked cold. It was like she was dead.”
The quick-thinking mum then applied everything she learned as an army cadet, and using emergency first aid, she performed CPR on Lily-May for five minutes, while her friend, Emily Parry rang emergency and Chloe’s mum.
After five initial rescue breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions, and two more rescue breaths and repeating, amazingly, Lily-May opened her eyes and started breathing again, and was rushed to Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor, where she was swiftly examined by doctors, who told Chloe she was severely constipated.
“They said pretty quickly that the constipation had caused the seizure,” she said. “She’d been having problems going to the toilet since she was born. This meant she’d got so blocked up that her body had shut down to deal with the pain.”
Doctors also told Chloe that, thanks to her skills and her quick-thinking ability, her daughter would not have made it. “It was an amazing moment, knowing I’d saved her life,” Chloe said.
After being prescribed laxatives, Lily-May was tested for different allergies, and was also kept in hospital for two nights for observation, and earlier this year, after seeing a dietician, Lily-May was diagnosed with lactose intolerance.
Dr Anton Emmanuel, of the British Society of Gastroenterology, explained that lactose intolerance ‘can cause constipation even though people tend to associate it more with causing diarrhoea.’ “Severe constipation is not associated with seizures, and patients should not be alarmed. However being constipated can be part of being predisposed to seizures in young people. Certainly there is no evidence to support “toxins” being released from the gut to the brain your bowel is designed to hold stool.”
Now, Lily-May is a healthy and happy two-year-old, thanks to her alert mum, who is a finalist for an Everyday Heroes award in the St John Ambulance Hero Parent of the Year category.
Chloe has also started a mum’s support group in Anglesey to raise awareness of the importance of first aid. “I want to help other mums be ready to save their little one’s life if they need to,” she said.