A quick thinking young Derry girl has been hailed a hero after coming to the aid of her diabetic mum when she fell ill.
Nine-year-old Kayleigh Dunne from the Foreglen was at home watching television on Monday morning when the drama unfolded.
The St. Peter’s and St Paul’s pupil, and her five-month-old baby brother, Ruairi, had earlier enjoyed breakfast with their mum, Jacinta. However Jacinta had miscalculated the amount of insulin she required that morning and experienced for the first time what is known as a ‘hypo’ episode, when blood sugar levels fell dangerously low.
Kayleigh was watching TV and her baby brother was in his cot when she was alerted by him crying. She went to see where her mum was and to her horror, found the 31-year-old on the bed, drifting in and out of consciousness.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’, Kayleigh explained: “I was talking to her, but she wouldn’t answer. I kept saying, ‘mammy, mammy. What’s wrong?’ I tapped her on the face, but she wouldn’t wake up.
“She kept opening and closing her eyes. It was really scary.”
However, brave Kayleigh didn’t panic. She fetched her little brother from his cot and called 999. “I said ‘There’s something wrong with my mammy’,” recalled Kayleigh.
She calmly explained she was putting the baby back in his cot and she would come back to the phone. She was told to sit beside her mum and assured emergency services were on their way.
“Two police officers came to the front door, and I showed one where mammy was and the other one took me to my Aunt Patricia’s house. I was really scared and feared. I did cry. It was the scariest thing ever.”
With paramendics at the scene attending to Jacinta, Kayleigh was reunited with her mum about 20 minutes later.
“I was just worried about mammy,” said Kayleigh. “I wanted her to be okay.”
Jacinta, who has been a diabetic for nine years, has made a good recovery. “I couldn’t be more proud of Kayleigh, she did brilliant.” Jacinta said she’d watched a programme four years ago about a similar situation prompting her to tell Kayleigh what to do in an emergency. “I thought I might need it myself someday, and well, I’m glad I did.”
Jacinta doesn’t remember anything about the incident, other than waking up with an oxygen mask on her face.
“The police and paramedics said Kayleigh did brilliant. She’s a great daughter and very modest. I am very proud of her,” said Jacinta, urging all parents to educate their children from an early age about what to do in an emergency.
Proud grandad, Kevin Dunne said Kayleigh could have panicked and left the house looking for help. “She could have wasted valuable time,” he said, “but she stayed calm and knew the right thing to do. We are very proud of her. She’s a wee hero.”
Local Sinn Fein councillor, Tony McCaul said Kaleigh is a shining example to others and deserves an award.
The PSNI are so impressed with Kayleigh they’ve invited her and nine friends to a celebratory event in Dungiven next week.
Limavady Area Commander, Chief Inspector Sam Donaldson said: “The bravery of this young girl is outstanding and her quick thinking certainly impressed my officers.
“She is very courageous and was able to handle what must have been upsetting circumstances. We felt it was appropriate to mark this bravery with an award from the PSNI which will be presented to Kayleigh at a celebratory party next week.”
Jacinta thanked the PSNI and paramedics for getting to the scene so quickly. She also thanked the PSNI for their generosity towards to Kayleigh.
“It’s very kind,” she said, “but the person I want to thank most is Kayleigh. She saved my life!”