Baby with dangerously high heart rate dunked in ice water by doctors in bid to save her life

Holly Hutchinson. [Photo: PA]

A newborn baby whose heart rate had risen to dangerous levels was dunked into a bucket of ice-cold water by doctors in a drastic bid to save her life.

Medics hoped the shock of the freezing water might restart her heart, which had risen to 320 beats per minute.

Holly Hutchinson was born on 19 December and was then diagnosed with viral meningitis after falling ill on Boxing Day.

Though she was discharged from hospital 48 hours later, on New Year's Eve, her mother, a paediatric nurse, noticed her baby's condition had deteriorated and took her to the Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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There, an infection in her heart caused her heart rate to soar, so in an attempt to shock her heart into returning to a more normal rhythm, doctors resorted to dunking her head into a bucket of icy water for five seconds.

Holly fell dangerously ill on New Year's Eve. [Photo: PA]

After several attempts to shock her heart using other methods failed, she was rushed to the Newcastle Freeman Hospital, where the process was repeated and she was intubated.

Despite the ice procedure, her parents were told Holly’s heart rate was not slowing, but having been given powerful drugs, the baby finally stabilised.

"Holly is a little legend, and she started to fight back after they shocked her heart and various other procedures," her dad, Ian, said.

"It was only 10 minutes until midnight on New Year's Eve when we received the news that her heart had gone back into its normal rhythm and was stable.

"If we'd arrived 20 minutes later, Holly might not be here today."

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Ian describeed how difficult it was watching doctors fight to save his daughter’s life.

"Right in front of our eyes, we could see the blood retracting from Holly's limbs to try and protect her core, making her go grey," he recalled.

"It was absolutely horrendous to see our newborn become so ill, so quickly. Watching her being submerged in the water and be prodded with needles like a pin cushion is something no parent wants to see.

"It was so hard knowing there was nothing we could do.”

Despite the bleak initial outlook, Holly has made a remarkable recovery.

Little Holly has made an incredible recovery. [Photo: PA]

The couple have released pictures of their baby girl in hospital to announce they will be running the Great North Run half marathon for the Sick Children’s Trust.

The trust organised a place for Holly’s parents and her older sister Emily to stay while Holly was in hospital, and the couple are full of praise for the service the trust provides.

Ian said: “It’s completely under-appreciated how important it is to be together as a family when your child’s in hospital. Being with Emily and Jen made such a difference, it kept me sane.

“The Sick Children’s Trust takes away the stress of being separated so you don’t have to worry about it. You can just focus on getting your child home.”

The dad admitted training for the run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields has been “tough”, but added: “If Holly can hold on with a heartbeat of 320, a half marathon should be pretty simple, right?”

Visit Ian’s JustGiving page to donate.

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