Brianna Draheim was 'clinically dead' for nearly seven minutes and  on life support for days after a severe asthma attack.
Brianna Draheim was 'clinically dead' for nearly seven minutes and on life support for days after a severe asthma attack. Kathy Sundstrom

Dead for seven minutes: Coast teen's asthma miracle

BRIANNA Draheim knows she is a walking 'miracle' after a severe asthma attack left her clinically dead for nearly seven minutes and on life support for days.

The Chancellor State College student had been enjoying an evening with her boyfriend on June 20 when her asthma started to flare up.

This was not unusual for the 17-year-old. She has suffered from asthma since "I was a young kid" and "the ambulance has had to be called out several times".

But it had never been this severe.

Brianna doesn't remember much of the fateful night.

"I remember not being able to breathe," she said.

When she woke up in the Sunshine Coast University Hospital on June 25, her right leg was "pigeon-toed" from the lack of oxygen to her brain and "my eye sight was to the left and I had a little bit of memory loss".

Only then did she find out she was "dead for seven minutes" on her boyfriend's floor.

"I was in his room, I was dead in his room," she said

"He is a lifeguard, he did CPR on me, he and his dad kept me alive for 15 minutes until the paramedics arrived."

Brianna's boyfriend had telephoned her mum, Sharon Stagg, to say Brianna was having trouble breathing and he was going to call an ambulance.

"When I got there, the house was full of ambos and paramedics," Ms Stagg said.

Brianna Draheim was 'clinically dead' for nearly seven minutes and  on life support for days after a severe asthma attack.
Brianna Draheim was 'clinically dead' for nearly seven minutes and on life support for days after a severe asthma attack.


"They were bagging her and doing chest compressions and they rang the hospital to get the emergency response team ready.

"They were still struggling (to keep her alive) from what I could see, but they took me upstairs as I started to freak out.

"She was clinically dead for around five to seven minutes, if it wasn't for my boyfriend and his dad, she wouldn't be here today."

Ms Stagg accompanied Brianna in the ambulance to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

"She was fighting all the way in the ambulance from all the medication and drugs pumped into her.

"Her arms and legs were going everywhere, she ripped the drip out of her arm and she was doing this really weird screaming thing.

"The lady driving the ambulance warned me that there was going to be a big emergency crew to meet Brianna.

"And sure enough, when they opened the door, they were all there."

Sharon Stagg with her daughter, Brianna Draheim, who survived a severe asthma attack.
Sharon Stagg with her daughter, Brianna Draheim, who survived a severe asthma attack. PatrickWoods

A "lovely lady" led Ms Stagg to a private room with her son  and put her arms around her and said "you know this is serious, don't you".

"She said I needed to get my family together, and that's when I choked. I asked 'what do you mean?' and she said 'I need you to know darling, your daughter may not wake up.

"I fell into a heap then."

As the days went on and Brianna clung to life, the family faced a new concern. Would their precious, vivacious teen be brain damaged?

"The specialists said they couldn't say 'yes or no'," Ms Stagg said.

How Brianna woke up is an anomaly Ms Stagg said doctors were still unable to explain.

"This is the crazy thing," Ms Stagg said.

"I can't remember what day it was, but I got to the hospital and walked into the room and she opened here eyes.

"I dropped my handbag, I didn't care and I went straight to her bed and put both my hands on her face.

"I was so happy my girl had opened her eyes.

"I put my hands on both sides of her face gave her a kiss, even though she was still connected up to life support and had tubes down her neck

"She did this sad lip face thing and tears started flowing down her face. I cried even more, I thought she must know its me .

"Then she closed her eyes again."

That day the specialists started slowly taking Brianna off the medication and life support while they "watched her very carefully".

"She was very weak," Ms Stagg said.

"She couldn't remember anything, she kept repeating everything. It was too early to say whether she had brain damage, but something indicated it was looking good and she had youth on her side."

At one stage, Brianna was looking at coming home with a splint on her leg as "her leg had curled inwards as she was deprived from oxygen to the brain".

"Somehow it fixed itself," Ms Stagg said.

Even more unusual was how Brianna's lung showed no sign of the damage that nearly killed her.

"After an asthma attack, your lungs normally struggle for days after. But her lungs were perfectly fine, the doctors said this doesn't happen," Ms Stagg said.

"It was an absolute miracle.

"I'm no saint, I do believe in God, but I don't go to church.

"I certainly believe God answered prayers. I think its a miracle."

Brianna has not returned to school full-time yet, but was on the road to complete recovery.

The scary part for her parents was they still had no answer as to what triggered such a severe asthma attack.

"The doctors and specialist said it was a really bizarre case. That's what makes me nervous, I don't know if it will happen again," Ms Stagg said.


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