LOW MOOR – When Holly Seidell learned CPR last year in a required high school health class she never imagined that training would save her mother’s life.
On the evening of Oct. 26, Holly, then 15, tossed a toy to her dog, Princess, in the backyard of her Low Moor home. When she walked through the back door and into the living room. she saw her mother, Marla Seidell, slumped over on the couch.
“It didn’t look like she was breathing,” Holly said. “I could see the whites of her eyes. Her lips were purple and her face was starting to turn purple.”
Minutes earlier Marla, who has asthma, had asked her husband to get her Nebulizer due to difficulty breathing, then began gasping for air just a few puffs into treatment. Sam Seidell had run out the front door, calling for his daughter to help. In the backyard and wearing headphones, Holly hadn’t heard her dad’s shouting.
Once indoors, Holly saw her dad on the floor with the Nebulizer, a machine that converts medicine to a mist so that it is more easily inhaled into the lungs.
Sam was on the telephone requesting an ambulance. Holly ran out the front door and began yelling for help, then quickly returned to her mother’s side.
“I started giving mom CPR on the couch,” Holly said. “It had been a while but I knew what to do.”
Like all freshman at Central High School in DeWitt, Holly had been required to become CPR certified in order to pass health class. Trained to perform CPR with the victim lying down, Holly improvised because she and her dad couldn’t move Marla from the couch.
Holly performed CPR for several minutes until the arrival of neighbors Steven and Chris Johnson. Marla was moved to the floor, where Steven Johnson performed CPR for several minutes until Holly resumed.
Low Moor Fire Department volunteers arrived, continued to perform CPR and other life-saving techniques, then transported Marla to Mercy Medical Center North in Clinton. Marla was in a coma.
That night hospital staff told the Seidells that CPR performed by Holly and her neighbor had saved Marla’s life.
“The doctor said if me and Steven hadn’t done CPR mom wouldn’t be here,” Holly said.
Karl Burmester, health teacher at Central High School, DeWitt, taught Holly how to perform CPR. All freshman are required to learn infant, child, and adult CPR. There is an option to retrain and recertify as juniors.
“To graduate from here you would have had to pass CPR,” Burmester said.
He doesn’t recall when the CPR requirement was instituted but knows he’s been teaching it for most of his 25 years at the school.
Burmester, an American Heart Association certified instructor, said he takes a relaxed approach during CPR instruction, with one caveat: “We practice, we practice, we practice.”
He tells students that it could take 5, 10 or even 15 minutes for first responders to arrive, even in a city with a hospital.
“You know what the outcome is going to be if you do nothing: by doing nothing the survival rate is zero,” Burmester said.
He is very happy that the required training helped Holly’s mother.
“I’m very proud that Holly took the initiative,” Burmester said.
Encouraged by his daughter, Sam Seidell plans to take a CPR class at Low Moor Fire Department soon.
“That was something definitely wonderful that she did. I’m glad that she learned that in school. She saved her mom’s life,” Sam said. “Spectacular.”
The Seidells may never know what caused the allergic reaction that nearly took Marla’s life. Marla suffered a brain injury when the allergic reaction caused her throat to swell shut, blocking oxygen to her brain and putting her in the coma.
Since late December she has been in rehabilitation at Mercy Medical Center South. Gradually she is relearning to move her limbs but is still unable to sit on her own. Although she is unable to speak due to a tracheotomy she can indicate ‘“yes” or “no” in response to questions. Sam and Holly, a sophomore who celebrated her 16th birthday last week, are elated.
“She is fully responsive now. She answers our questions. Sometimes if we don’t know what she wants we’ll go through the alphabet and spell out what she wants,” Holly said.
They visit Marla almost every day after Holly gets home from school.
“Now she mouths ‘I love you’ and she points to whoever she’s saying it to,” Holly said.
Benefit for Marla Seidell
What: Marla Seidell is recovering from a brain injury. She has lived in Low Moor for 13 years with her husband Sam, and their daughter, Holly. She served on Low Moor City Council for six years. She had been a long-time editor at Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, Illinois.
When: 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24
Where: Low Moor Community Center, Low Moor. All-you-can-eat Taco Bar, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, Bucket Raffle and more.
Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Children 8 and younger eat for free.
Hosted by: Low Moor Methodist Church, Low Moor Lions, Low Moor Fire Department, City of Low Moor, and Low Moor Community Center.
For donation and ticket information contact: Heather (563) 219-0401; Tom (563) 249-2474; Tammy (563) 357-4463; Julie (563) 468-7098.
Donations can also be made to Marla L. Seidell Benefit at any Clinton National Bank Location or mail to:Box 176, Low Moor, IA 52757.