Elijah Belden is Back in the Game After Lifesaving Care at TVH
On October 4, 2014, Lauren Donnelly, MD, an emergency medicine physician at Temecula Valley Hospital, experienced one of a doctor’s worst moments when she received a call about a young boy who had suffered a life-threatening electric shock at his own birthday party.
Ten-year-old Elijah Belden was in the backyard of his family’s home in Temecula, celebrating his birthday with friends from his little league team. As he posed for a photo his mother was taking, he wrapped his arms around a metal patio cover support that had somehow become electrified, possibly from a frayed string of electric lights. He collapsed to the ground, unconscious. His mother was the first to reach him, but was shocked herself. Finally, Elijah’s baseball coach was able to pull him away from the pole and start CPR, with help from his mother.
“As an emergency medicine physician, you sometimes wonder if you make a difference. Something like this gives you hope.”
- Lauren Donnelly, MD
A Matter of Minutes
Within five minutes, Emergency Medical Services arrived to find Elijah in cardiac arrest. They used defibrillation to restart his heart rhythm and rushed him to the ER at Temecula Valley Hospital. When he arrived, still unconscious, Dr. Donnelly and the ER team cleared his airway and put him on a ventilator.
The team induced medical hypothermia to carefully lower Elijah’s body temperature. “Cooling the body after sudden cardiac arrest slows the metabolism to help preserve heart and brain function,” says Dr. Donnelly. “It can significantly improve a patient’s chance for full recovery.” Elijah was then airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital, where he remained in the hypothermic state for five days. When he awoke, he was surrounded by family and staff.
Two days after his release, Elijah and his family invited Dr. Donnelly to Elijah’s baseball game the following week. That day, Dr. Donnelly watched Elijah score four runs. “Everyone involved had a role in saving Elijah’s life — his coach, the EMTs, the entire Temecula Valley Hospital staff,” she says. “We all pulled together, the stars aligned and Elijah is alive today.”