Boys saves brother life after allegic attack

Monday, December 27th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- A quick-thinking 10-year-old Norman boy is credited with saving his little brother's life. Stefan Terrell took steps after his brother Cooper Terrell had an allergic reaction that helped save the 6-year-old Cooper from near death on Dec. 18.

A week before, Stefan was sneaking around to find Christmas presents. Instead came across something that later helped save his little brother's life. The boys' mother, Ginna Dowling-Terrell, was out shopping for Christmas presents while her husband, Ernie Terrell, prepared to take their sons, Stefan, 10, and Cooper, 6, to Stefan's soccer game. Cooper suffers from a severe allergy to peanuts and derivatives, including the faintest traces of peanut oil. The condition, known as anaphylaxis, causes an allergic reaction that causes swelling around the eyes, lips, tongue and air passages.

On this day, Cooper found a sports candy bar that was left at the house after a previous soccer match. It looked safe to eat. But Cooper said his mouth soon started itching and told his dad. "And then I don't remember," Cooper told the Norman Transcript. His father quickly read the label and watched as Cooper's tongue and throat swelled and his lips turned from blue to dark purple. Terrell called 911.

At the same time, Stefan sprang into action and set in motion what Mrs. Dowling-Terrell calls a "a miraculous chain of events." Stefan had been scouring his parents' walk-in closet for Christmas presents a week earlier. During his hunt, he found a life-saving injector pen used in the emergency treatment of anaphylactic shock. Stefan quickly found the pen and gave it to his father. Terrell gave the phone to Stefan and injected a drug called Epinephrine into Cooper's thigh. Cooper had quit breathing. The 911 dispatcher told Stefan to listen for the ambulance. Instead, Stefan took the cordless phone and ran outside and down along sidewalk and steep driveway and into the street.

Stefan doesn't recall his exact words, but a neighbor said he shouted: "Please God, hurry up! My brother's dying." The neighbor was just getting into her car when Stefan ran into the street. The neighbor got her husband, Dr. Gary Myers, a Norman surgeon. Dr. Myers ran outside and down the street to meet Terrell, who was carrying Cooper's lifeless body in his arms. Dr. Myers performed CPR in the driveway and brought Cooper back enough to sustain him until the ambulance arrived, Terrell said. Mrs. Dowling-Terrell had returned and accompanied Cooper to the hospital.

At Norman Regional Hospital, doctors pumped Cooper's stomach and put him on life support. One of the boy's lungs had collapsed. They said the injection administered at home had probably prevented complete respiratory failure. About three hours after he was stabilized at Norman Regional, Cooper was transported in critical condition to the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. Around 3 a.m. the following day, Cooper took his first unassisted breath. The boys' mother marveled at the events that led to her youngest son's rescue from near death. "Everywhere we turned, little things and great things happened to push us in the right direction," Mrs. Dowling-Terrell said.