Mum’s big mission to help save lives

This Is Wiltshire: Sonia Dykes, with Tiarna Harrison, Jadan Dykes, Tyrone Harrison and Callum Dykes Sonia Dykes, with Tiarna Harrison, Jadan Dykes, Tyrone Harrison and Callum Dykes

SONIA Dykes had no idea that when she let her one-year-old son go with his babysitter to the park that would be the last time she would see him fully conscious.

When Tyrone returned he was unconscious, having suffered a cardiac arrest.

Despite his grandmother resuscitating him and an ambulance arriving within minutes, he was left severely brain damaged from not being able to breath for 10 minutes.

Then, 10 years later, her two-year-old daughter Tiarna also had a cardiac arrest. The 38-year-old year had returned from a shopping trip and went to Tiarna’s room only to find her unconscious and lying on the floor.

Luckily, due to Sonia’s fast resuscitation, Tiarna did not have any lasting long-term effects.

Both of her children are now fitted with internal small defibrillators – called implantable cardioverter defibrillators – and have regular checkups with doctors.

“It was the most terrifying experience,” said Sonia, of Ramsbury Avenue, Penhill. “Lots of people think that cardiac arrests are like heart attacks but they are completely different, people just drop down dead – their heart completely stops working.

“The worst thing for us was none of our children showed any signs or symptoms of the condition so we were never aware anything was going to happen.”

She said signs of the illness include someone feeling dizzy or feeling low on energy after exercise.

Sonia has decided to use her experience to make sure other parents do not have to go through the same trauma as her family.

This is why she is launching a campaign to have each of the 80 schools in Swindon fitted with a defibrillator – a machine that could make the difference between life or death for someone during a cardiac arrest.

The apparatus, which provides electric shocks to launch the flow of blood to the heart again, costs between £2,000 to £3,000 each.

This means she has to raise around £160,000 and to help her on the mission the Hand on Heart charity is donating one machine to the school of her choice, which will probably be either Uplands or Sevenfields.

“I know Swindon College already has two so that means I only have to raise the money for about 79 schools,” said Sonia, who cares for Tyrone around the clock.

“I know it’s a big challenge but it is so important to make sure every school is fitted with one. If Tyrone had had a defibrillator it would have made the difference.”

To raise the cash she is hoping schools will host fancy dress days and a number of other activities.

Anyone wishing to donate should call 07800 713196.

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