On the occasion of National Heart Disease Awareness Day in the United States, the American Heart Association shared the powerful testimony of Kyra Smithlin, who survived 44 cardiac arrests, thanks to the good reflexes of her family.
The story of Kyra Smithlin, an American woman now 61 years old, changed dramatically twelve years ago. This mother, with no history, suffered 44 cardiac arrests in a single day but was saved thanks to her little boy, then 9 years old. This testimony was highlighted by the American Heart Association on the occasion of National Heart Disease Awareness Day on February 2.
The father was doing cardiac massage, the son was holding the phone
This Saturday in 2012, Kyra Smithlin is at home with Bryce, one of her 9-year-old sons, when suddenly something goes wrong. The young boy sees his mother trembling and gasping for air. He understands that she is in a vital emergency and leaves to look for her father.
“When I saw my mother out of breath, the first thing I thought was that she was having a cardiac arrest” he will say.
The child was not wrong, his mother, then aged 48, suffered sudden cardiac arrest, a potentially fatal illness in which the heart suddenly stops beating and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs.
He then calls for help, while his father begins cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the phone held by his son to his ear to direct him. His massage lasts 8 minutes, until the arrival of paramedics who give him four cardiac shocks. When a slight heartbeat resumes, the team rushes Kyra to the hospital.
Big congratulations to local volunteer, Kyra Smithlin, on her appointment to the 2024 class of @GoRedForWomen Real Women survivors. Kyra suffered a cardiac arrest at home and her family jumped into action. Read more about Kyra 👉 https://t.co/MXEJsFzFjs #GoRedforWomen #goREDwa
— AHA Washington (@AmericanHeartWA) February 3, 2024
40 more stops at the hospital
But the mother’s ordeal and her family’s anguish do not end there. Once she arrived at the emergency room, Kyra Smithlin’s condition deteriorated and doctors had to shock her heart 40 times over the next eight hours, burning out the batteries in two defibrillators.
Placed in a coma and on life support, Kyra still receives the support of her family and her son Bryce who does not leave her and begs her to fight. When she wakes up, the mother attributes her survival to her husband, but also to this courageous son without whom she would not have had the strength to continue. Today, 12 years later, the whole family is committed to promoting the importance of first aid and the fact that at least one person knows them in each household.
40 stops, how is that possible?
Can we survive 40 successive cardiac arrests? Presumably yes. Doctors said Kyra Smithlin was likely born with non-compaction cardiomyopathy, a very rare congenital disease of the heart muscle that carries a high risk of arrhythmia – an abnormal heart rhythm, described as “an electrical problem.” at the level of his heart.
A fact confirmed to us by Dr Gérald Kierzek, medical director of TipsForWomens. “In cardiac arrest, the life prognosis is linked to the lack of oxygen while the heart is stopped. But in her case, when the cardiac arrests occur in the hospital while the patient is intubated and ventilated, there is no hypoxia or cerebral anoxia. The prognosis is much better.”
Since then, however, Kyra has had a defibrillator implanted in her chest to shock her heart to a normal rhythm if necessary and has been put on treatment. She says she is now enjoying every day that passes.