Quick action saved Colton’s life after an asthma-induced heart attack

Colton’s story


When ten-year-old Colton started wheezing and couldn’t get relief from his asthma inhaler, his dad Kevin brought him to the emergency department at BC Children’s Hospital. As soon as they got to the counter, Colton collapsed.

“A whole bunch of people showed up and started CPR on him right away,” Kevin said. “I was in shock.”

Colton’s asthma attack caused a heart attack. He stopped breathing and lost his heartbeat for 15 minutes, while doctors and nurses fought to resuscitate him. After several rounds of compressions and medication, his pulse came back. By that time, however, brain damage had already set in.

“The brain is quite dependent on oxygen, sugar and glucose and if it’s deprived of either for more than three to five minutes, you can see effects similar to a stroke,” said Dr. Garth Meckler, Head of Emergency Medicine.

Colton lost his vision, and he was unable to eat or walk. Ten days after his heart attack, the family moved to Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children for rehabilitation treatment. His team included occupational therapists and physiotherapists to help him walk again, as well as a speech and language therapist.

“The progress he was having there was amazing. He went from not being able to eat or see to, all of a sudden, sitting up in bed and standing.”

— Rachel, Colton’s mom

After just a month at Sunny Hill, Colton regained his autonomy and was able to return home to his family. He’s now back at school and living a full life with his family.

“He was very motivated,” Kevin said. “I’ve never been so impressed by somebody in my entire life.”

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