Winston miraculously revived by canine CPR

Dr Lorna O’Dowd, veterinarian in our 24/7 Emergency and Critical Care service recounts the rare and special moment that Winston the little terrier was brought back to life.


Image: Dr Lorna ecstatic after Winston came back to life

It was 4am on Monday 1 October, coming to the end of what seemed to be a long weekend of busy nights. Sue, one of the ICU nurses, and I were in the middle of administering treatments to one of the inpatients when something caught our eye on the security camera.

Both our hearts sank when we saw a woman carrying a small bundle in her arms racing towards the entrance of the hospital. We knew it was going to be bad. Before we had time to tuck the patient we were treating at the time back into her bed, this woman had already reached the front door.

She began banging frantically on the door! Luckily, José our security guard just happened to be in reception right at that moment and he opened the door for them. In the woman’s arms held a small, lifeless dog. He immediately took the dog and rushed down the corridor to where Sue and myself were waiting.

Upon seeing Winston, I knew immediately that he had already passed. José quickly recounted the owner's story of how Winston had just choked on a piece of meat.

We started CPR immediately. Sue began chest compressions whilst I cleared Winston’s mouth and passed a tube into his airway allowing me to breathe for him. Danni, the second ICU nurse, and I then placed a cannula (small tube) in Winston’s vein allowing us to administer medications and fluid. Our hope was fading as time flew by.

Suddenly, after about 8 minutes of continuous CPR, I saw a trace appear on his ECG. I placed my stethoscope on his chest and confirmed his heart had started beating. We were winning. Moments later Winston began to take his own breaths. I called his name several times trying to see if he was regaining consciousness.

There is always a worry that patients who regain life after CPR can suddenly die again. Luckily, this was not to be Winston’s story. Despite his tiny size Winston had lots of fight in him. 20 minutes after arriving dead to our hospital Winston was sitting up on the emergency table in shock but very much alive. Walking up the corridor to get Winston’s owners I was in shock myself, I have been a veterinarian for 14 years and moments like these are very exceptionally rare.

His owners broke down in tears when they heard the news. I took them to see Winston and it was a very special moment as they held Winston in their arms. The feeling in that moment is very hard to describe but I knew looking at Sue, Danni, and José, that it would be a moment we will all treasure for the remainder of our careers. It is those moments that make the night shifts, the working all of Christmas, the heading off to work as your friends and family clock off, truly worth it, because someone has to be there when the next Winston needs us.

Find out more about Emergency and Critical Care service, open 24/7, 365 days, walk-ins welcome.

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