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Twins given medals for saving grandmother's life after she suffered seizure

Sean O’Sullivan woke at 6am and couldn’t rouse his granny Ruth.

Cork. Cork University Hospital GoogleMaps GoogleMaps

TWO FOUR-YEAR-old twins who prevented their grandmother from suffering brain damage or death after she suffered a seizure were presented with bravery medals at their playschool in Clonakilty, West Cork today.

On 25 February, Sean O’Sullivan and his little sister Emma were being minded overnight by their grandmother, Ruth Clarke, as their parents May and Brian had gone to Tralee for a concert. 

Sean woke at 6am and couldn’t rouse his granny Ruth. The pensioner had taught him how to play games on her phone so he went to her device and started pressing buttons. He managed to get through to his grandfather, Stephen Clarke, who was at home nearby.  Mr Clarke rushed to the scene and attempted to get in to the house. 

Stephen said Sean was too short to reach the latch. However, he got his tricycle, climbed on top of it and let his grandfather in. Ruth (69) was rushed to hospital where she spent two days in a coma.

Doctors didn’t find anything amiss in tests and put her sudden collapse down to ageing epilepsy or an electrical malfunction in the brain. She is since on the mend.

Mr Clarke said he was amazed that Sean had the presence of mind to get on top of the tricycle to let him in. 

“He is only four. A very bright kid. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if she was dead,” he said. “It was a terrible ordeal because you never know what the outcome is going to be. Fortunately the outcome is fantastic”. 

‘He saved my life’

Ruth said her last memory prior to waking up in intensive care in Cork University Hospital was of texting her grandson at 1am. 

“I can’t believe that Sean did what he did. He saved my life. He called his Mummy and said ‘Nanny is not waking up’ and he called his granddad. He got me help”. 

Sean also managed to get through to his mother, May O’Sullivan, on the phone. She said he kept screaming “I can’t wake Nanny. I can’t wake Nanny”. 

She said she was terrified at the idea of her two small children being in the house with her mother given that she was afraid she had died. She is astonished that Sean and Emma managed to raise the alarm. Sean stuck crisps in Ruth’s mouth and eyes in a bid to wake her and Emma then removed the crisps from her face when it didn’t work.

May O’Sullivan said she could never thank Sean and Emma enough for what they had done for her mother. 

“I was certain my Mum had passed. One of the things the doctors said to us that she would possibly have been brain damaged. How do you thank a little four-year-old for having the sense to pick up a phone? Sean is going to get a big birthday present this year from everybody”. 

May admits to being emotional about the fact that her children managed to save the life of her mother.

“It is a little four-year-old who had the presence of mind to understand that it is an emergency. That nanny is not just doing a good sleep. There is something wrong. He picked up a cell phone.  Luckily he got through to his grandfather at first”. 

Mayor of Clonakility, Gretta O’Donovan, was on hand at Naiscoil Chloch na gCoillte this morning for the medal presentation. She described the two young children as amazing role models for all young people.

“How many of us at four years of age would have the presence of mind to call for help by telephone? Because of his Sean’s quick reaction to the impending loss of his nana he was able to get her the help she needed. In fact truth be told how many of us at fourteen or twenty four would have had the presence of mind to do this?”

Olivia Kelleher
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