What do you do?
When that very thing happened to 7-year-old Allyson Amaral Feb. 15, she remembered what her mother, Shelley, made a point of teaching her: If anyone's ever unconscious, call 9-1-1.
The second grader said she was about 5 or 6 when she learned how to use the phone for an emergency. "She told you to always dial 9-1-1 in case you had an emergency," Ally recalls. "She told me to always do it if anybody ever passes out in front of you."
Shelley, 43, had good reason to teach emergency response to her little girl. A single parent recovering from gastric bypass surgery--she's lost 170 pounds in the last year--when she was heavy, Shelley suffered from high blood pressure.
She doesn't remember blacking out in the bathroom, but Allyson vividly remembers not being able to rouse her mother. "I was really scared ... so I raced to the phone. I grabbed it and started to dial 9-1-1."
The dispatcher--"This lady named Diane," Ally said--stayed on the phone with her until the paramedics arrived in only minutes. Just as the ambulance got there, Allyson's Aunt Judy happened to drop by for a visit. Ally no longer felt so alone. Both her aunt and her mom would later tell her what a great job she'd done summoning help for her mother.
"When I was in the hospital," Shelley remembers, "they could hardly revive me. I had another blackout. My blood pressure dropped 40-50 points. My blood pressure was so bad ... they had to put an alarm on my bed." Since the blackouts, her doctor has taken her off her blood pressure medication altogether to adjust for the weight loss, she said. Her top weight was 465 pounds. She's grateful that Medicare covered the $65,000 procedure completely. Her insurance will also cover the costs of plastic surgery to remove loose excess skin, she said. Without the weight-loss surgery, she explains, "I was going to die."
After the blackout, Shelley was in the hospital from Friday to Monday. She urges all parents to teach children the proper use of 9-1-1, saying she drilled Ally every week.
"She's my everything," Shelley said, eyes bright with tears. "My hero. She saved her mother's life, and I just can't imagine not being here to raise my daughter."
Although Shelley wishes Ally hadn't had to experience the emergency and be so scared, she adds, "It makes me feel good to know as a parent that she knew what to do and she was prepared."
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