Heather and Courtney Donaghy outside of their home. Photo by Ned Jilton II.
KINGSPORT — When one Bloomingdale mother experienced a medical emergency, she found a hero in an unlikely person: her daughter.
Nine-year-old Courtney Donaghy saved her mom’s life.
“If Courtney hadn’t made the phone call when she did or found me, I could have slipped into a coma,” said her mother, Heather Donaghy .
Heather had been feeling ill for a few days. On July 23, she was feeling especially ill and decided to lie down.
Within a minute, Heather couldn’t move or talk.
Courtney was watching TV in the next room when she heard her mom gasping for air followed by the sound of her crying. She went in to check on her and found her mother lying with her eyes open and not moving. Tears were streaming down Heather’s face.
Courtney quickly called 911.
The youngster knew what to do because her parents had prepared her for this moment since she was 4. Courtney’s mom and dad would constantly ask her to repeat her address, her phone number and her parents’ names. They also would do practice drills so Courtney could be prepared in case an emergency did come up.
“She stayed strong,” Heather said. “That is what makes me so thankful that we did the drills and the things we did.
“I just want other parents to know that your children have to know these things. ... You don’t want to scare them, but being prepared is the best thing you can be.”
The preparation paid off. After Courtney called 911, she told the woman who answered that her mother couldn’t move or talk. After answering some routine questions, she called her dad but he couldn’t understand her because she was crying.
Her father said he was on his way, and Courtney called 911 back and answered more questions.
“Her being here and doing what she did saved my life,” Heather said. “I could have laid in there and just not woken up and she might have thought I was sleeping and just not come in to bother me because I was ill.”
Heather spent a few days in the hospital, but doctors still don’t know what happened. Her potassium was low and she was severely dehydrated that day. Doctors even think she might have had a mild stroke.
Since her mom returned home from the hospital, Courtney has watched over her and taken care of her. She has helped with the laundry, and has cooked and cleaned.
Heather is still recovering, but she’ll never forget how brave her daughter was that day.
“As far as I’m concerned, she is my hero,” Heather said. “Mommies are usually the heroes, but she’s mine.”