UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Blake and Kristi

Blake and Kristi's Story: Around 1:00 a.m. on November 18, 2009, five-year-old Blake made his way downstairs to his parents coughing badly and holding his throat saying, "Mommy, daddy I can't breathe." As a nurse, Blake's mom, Kristi, knew that Blake was breathing because he was talking and thought that Blake would be fine. She told her husband to take Blake outside and into the cold air to help with his cough and croup to decrease the swelling in his airways.  In the meantime she went upstairs to tend to her 13-month-old daughter who was also coughing.

Soon after Kristi went upstairs, she heard her husband, Jeff, calling for her frantically. She ran down the stairs with her daughter, "That is when I saw my six foot, four inch tall husband holding our little boy who was blue, and I will never forget the terror on Jeff's face."

Kristi put down her daughter and grabbed Blake from her husband's hands and began screaming to him, shaking him, and running him back into the cold air while her husband called 911. It was when Kristi was taking Blake outside that Blake's bladder let go, "What usually happens when people die," Kristi said.

Kristi had helped with patients under cardiac arrest and assisted with CPR eight or 10 times and the patients had not made it, so she wasn't sure if CPR would save Blake. But as a CPR instructor, that is what she was good at doing.

"At first I could not get the air in because his airway was swollen shut, but I just kept trying, then I could tell some air was going to his lungs and not all to his stomach so I checked for a pulse and then began compressions," Kristi said.

Finally, as Kristi heard her husband's fire pager go off calling for paramedics, and as she was getting ready to take his pulse again, Blake took a small, much labored breath on his own. But this wasn't the end of his battle; Kristi continued to give her son rescue breaths. He wasn't breathing well enough on his own.

When the first responders and paramedics arrived they were able to give Blake epinephrine and oxygen to help him breathe deeper on his own. Blake was brought to the Blank Children's Hospital Emergency Department by ambulance where Dr. Rhonda Dodge took care of Blake from the moment he arrived.

Blake was diagnosed by Blank Children's Hospital's doctors with infectious croup that caused airway obstruction; his family also found out a few weeks later that he had had H1N1. Because of his visit to Blank Children's Hospital, Blake and his family have learned that Blake has a narrow airway and a laryngeal cleft in his throat. Blake also has other pulmonary problems and asthma for which he now receives treatment. Today, Blake sees Dr. Douglas Schulte with The Iowa Clinic and Dr. Scott Sheets, who is his pediatric pulmonologist, every three months for his airway and asthma problems.

Blake's mom, Kristi, said she wanted to share their story to stress the importance of knowing CPR because you never know when you will need to use it. She also wanted to share her family's story to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped.

Now that six-year-old Blake had been diagnosed and treated for his respiratory problems, he is back to being a fun-loving, active little boy.