Published on 15 July 2019
Lying in a hospital bed, this is the little girl whose life was saved by a North East trainee nurse as she enjoyed a Spanish holiday.
Rachel Rose had only received basic life support training from the University of Sunderland just weeks before her life saving skills were dramatically put to the test.
As Rachel and her family enjoyed a sunshine break in Alcudia, Majorca, she found herself in the middle of a medical emergency when five-year-old Kylie Ann Stewart slipped into unconsciousness on the floor of a hotel complex.
Rachel, 37, a first year student studying Adult Nursing at the University, said: “I didn’t think, I just knew I had to do something.
“I felt for her pulse but there was nothing there; there was no breath either and her chest wasn’t moving.
“I knew I had to start CPR straight away, my mind was racing, all I could think about was how young she was.
“For four minutes I kept going but there was nothing, no signs of life at all. But all the training had told us to keep going, so that’s what I did.
“Then, in the fifth minute she came round, she was just about breathing, then she started moving her eyes a little. I put her straight into the recovery position, I couldn’t believe it.”
In the days prior, Rachel had been enjoying a one-week sunshine break with her sister, Natalie Cooper, as well as children Connor, 17, and Caitlin, 15, and mum, Denise Rose.
Three days into their stay, on a Saturday night, Rachel had finished her evening meal and was heading towards the entertainment area when Catherine Stewart, 37, came running past, cradling daughter Kylie Ann in her arms.
Rachel, of Hartlepool, said: “I could see she was very upset and frightened so I followed after her into the complex reception where she started asking for help.”
Catherine, of Donegal, Ireland, had been at the resort with her four children, including Kylie Ann, and husband Jonathan Stewart, 36.
She recalls: “I was just screaming for help, asking for them to call an ambulance. I was terrified but no one seemed able to help.
“Then suddenly, Rachel seemed to appear out of nowhere and took over, performing CPR.
“It was all a bit of a blur but there is no doubt that she saved my daughter’s life.
“Kylie Ann is the centre of our family and I cannot bear the thought of what might have happened if we’d lost her.”
After putting the schoolgirl into the recovery positions, paramedics arrived on the scene and continued to work on critically ill Kylie Ann before transferring her to a nearby hospital.
The youngster, who was born with spina bifida, had contracted a vomiting and diarrhoea bug which turned out to be e-coli, causing her kidneys to completely shut down and for her to slip into unconsciousness.
After 13 days in a Spanish hospital, Kylie Ann was transferred to Dublin, Ireland, where she spent a further 10 days on dialysis.
Rachel, who has been on placement from University at the University Hospital of North Tees, said: “After what happened I just desperately wanted to know if she was alright, if she had survived. I’d heard nothing since the paramedics took her off.”
It was not until Rachel returned home that she saw a message on Facebook saying that Catherine had been searching for her.
The families finally reconnected and Catherine was able to thank Rachel for everything she had done.
Catherine said: “I wanted her to know how grateful we were. She did what no one else was able to do and because of that she saved Kylie Ann.”
The schoolgirl is now recovering at home and having regular check-ups at hospital. She is expected to return to school in September.
Rachel said: “I’d only done my basic life support training a few weeks earlier, so it came in very useful.
“I just want people to know how important it is that basic medical help is made available in places like this. When something like this happens, you quickly realise how important things like first-aid courses are.”
Simone Bedford, Team Leader Under-Graduate Nursing, at the University of Sunderland, said: “Rachel is an inspiration to all student nurses, we are very proud of her actions, she has clearly demonstrated the 6C’s of nursing, those being Care, Compassion, Competence, Commitment, Communication and most importantly, Courage.”