Mother brought back to life after collapsing in front of kids

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 day.

"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 7000 people.

"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

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