Harry and Isabelle

Harry and Isabelle

Waterford school boy Harry is, in most respects, your average eight year old. He loves nothing more than playing football and playing with his friends. But unlike most 8 year olds, Harry is a lifesaver.

In 2011, Harry’s family welcomed Isabelle, the latest edition to their family and the smallest as she was born premature. Mum, Maria said, “All my children were born premature, so when Isabelle came along at 28 weeks we weren’t surprised and we knew what to expect.”One of the things Maria knew to look out for with premature babies, was a condition known as Apnoea of Prematurity; a condition that causes the baby to stop breathing for 20 seconds or longer. At 8 weeks, Isabelle stopped breathing for the first time.

“Myself, my little girl Molly, who was 3 at the time, and my sister Karen were all watching TV and chatting. Along with Harry who was sat on the sofa holding Isabelle in his arms, he dotes on his little sisters and loves giving them cuddles. All of a sudden Isabelle cried a little, went deathly pale and then stopped breathing.”

“Harry responded immediately”, says Maria, “he gently tapped her foot and called her name. Then, when she didn’t respond, he gave two short breaths into her mouth, with his breaths she took a huge gulp of air and came back.” Since then, Isabelle has stopped breathing several times and miraculously Harry has revived her on each occasion.

Harry’s quick thinking when Isabelle stopped breathing followed his first heroic action which took place when Maria was pregnant with Isabelle. During her pregnancy, Maria’s blood pressure dropped causing her to faint. When she came round Harry had her legs up on a kitchen chair and was calling for assistance. Maria says that having Harry around is reassuring for her, “it’s like having an extra pair of eyes and he’s very calm in an emergency, I’m very proud of him but he always says that it’s no big deal!”

Harry learnt first aid as a member of Waterford’s Irish Red Cross T-Bears, part of the charity’s Youth section, which he joined when he was just 5 years old. The T-Bears, or Teddy Bears as they are also known, offer an opportunity for 5 – 10 year olds to learn new skills like first aid, socialise with other children their age and also to take part in the Irish Red Cross Options programme. Options activities in the Waterford T-Bears have to date included a clean up in the local park, an environmental talk and training with the Waterford football team.

May 13th – 19th is National Volunteer Week 2013, to celebrate the Irish Red Cross is sharing real life experiences from volunteers around the country and encouraging more people to get involved with their local Red Cross.

For more information about how you can get involved with the Irish Red Cross in your community, see www.redcross.ie/get-involved or call 01 642 4600.