If you ask Haylee Wrenn what is special about Tuesday June
24, she may tell you it's her son's birthday -- or that it
was the day she died.
Before the fateful "day I died", the Napier mother considered
herself a healthy person.
However, on that day her whole world turned upside-down when
her heart suddenly stopped -- she suffered a cardiac arrest
-- while taking her children Alex, 9, and Olivia, 10, to The
Doctors Greenmeadows Medical Centre in Kennedy Rd.
"My husband had rung me ... and I said to him, 'Look I'll
ring you back in two minutes', and the next phone call he got
was from the doctors to say, 'Your wife has collapsed'."
The 37-year-old has had to piece together the events of the
day from her family. The last thing she remembers is making
pancakes for Alex the night before for his birthday the next
"The next thing I remember is waking up 48 hours later in
hospital wondering what the hell happened."
She said she was clinically dead for about five minutes and
the event had been a traumatic experience, especially for
Alex and Olivia who had witnessed the incident.
She credits the pharmacy staff and doctors for keeping her
alive by performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and
using a defibrillator until an ambulance arrived.
"The medical profession, they are trained in CPR and all that
sort of stuff ... to be having a conversation with someone so
young and then I was dead on the floor.
Mum brought back to life after collapse drama
She said she had been diagnosed with a rare condition known
as Long QT Syndrome, a heart rhythm disorder that can
potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats and affects one in
"It means part of my heartbeat is too long and lands on the
second part and the heart just goes 'stuff you' and stops.
That's the easy way of explaining it."
The mother of three -- she also has an 18-year-old son George
-- said she was unaware she suffered from the condition.
"With Long QT there is no warning. There is no 'you're not
well' or anything like that. It is just 'stuff you, I'm not
going to work any more'."
It means she now has a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted
in her chest.
She said the condition could be inherited and her children
were now being tested to see if they had it.
St John Hawke's Bay district operations manager Stephen Smith
said Mrs Wrenn was lucky to survive her ordeal
"If this had been an unwitnessed arrest, if she'd only been
at home with the children and no one had called an ambulance
straight away, no one had started CPR and no one had used a
defibrillator, then I would say it would have been a grim
outcome. Certainly the fact she had been in a public area,
and people had provided that life-saving support she needed,
it has contributed undoubtedly to her still being alive."
Mr Smith said the incident highlighted the importance of
members of the public learning CPR.
- Greg Taipari of Hawke's Bay Today