Christmas horror as toddler stopped breathing

Last updated 05:00 28/12/2012
Hope Pareanga

HOME SAFE: Hope Pareanga, 2, is now back home in Kawhia with her mother Louise after she collapsed and stopped breathing on Christmas Day.

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A Kawhia family's Christmas Day turned to horror after their youngest child stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital.

The Pareanga whanau were at home in the harbour town enjoying their new Christmas presents when the youngest of seven children, Hope, 2, collapsed and stopped breathing.

Hope's mother Louise Pareanga, 32, said her daughter went outside after lunch to play on the waterslide with her older siblings when she had a seizure.

"They just started screaming," Pareanga said.

"She had collapsed on the ground and was having a seizure and by the time I got out there she had stopped breathing."

Pareanga has basic first aid training, but in a moment of panic, the lessons departed her.

"Because it's your child and you don't want to lose them you just panic.

"I forgot what to do and then it came back to me and I did the right thing. It scares the hell out of you."

The family called 111 and local St John officers rushed to the the scene to stabilise Hope.

Her temperature was dangerously high and her heart rate was 179 beats per minute. Ambulance staff thought she would go into cardiac arrest.

"The ambulance officer who was first to assess her is actually her pre-school teacher," Pareanga said.

"It is such a small community and she was freaking out because this is a girl she has in her daycare."

They transferred Hope to an ambulance that travelled down from Hamilton and she was taken to Waikato Hospital with her father by her side.

Pareanga travelled by car to Hamilton and got updates from her sister who works for St John ambulance. Her two eldest children travelled with her.

Hope had an erratic heart rate and was diagnosed with a heart murmur, but doctors don't yet know the cause of the seizure and she will have to have further tests in the new year.

She's back home now and strong enough to play with her Christmas presents.

While in hospital, Hope was given a teddy bear called Edward which takes pride of place with the rest of her toys.

"An orderly with a smile on her face just walked in and handed us a teddy bear without really saying anything."

Pareanga said the teddy bear was donated to the hospital by members of the public.

"These people have donated all these presents to any children who have come into the ward on Christmas Day." 

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- Waikato Times

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