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Hamilton police officer credited with saving 7-year-old who collapsed during Terry Fox Run

Tiannah Antone-Federici, 7, meets with Hamilton police Const. Sean Connelly, who's been credit with saving the young girls life after she went into cardiac arrest.
Tiannah Antone-Federici, 7, meets with Hamilton police Const. Sean Connelly, who's been credit with saving the young girls life after she went into cardiac arrest. Hamilton Health Sciences

The family of a seven-year-old girl is grateful for the actions of a quick-thinking Hamilton police officer, who’s credited with saving her life after she collapsed during a school run in early October.

In a news release, officials at McMaster Children’s Hospital revealed how serious Gatestone Elementary School student Tiannah Antone-Federici’s plight was while participating in a Terry Fox Run.

Antone-Federici fell to the ground on the track of her school during the afternoon event, which prompted school staff to call 911 and grab an automated external defibrillator (AED).

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Const. Sean Connelly was the first to arrive at the school and after examining Antone-Federici, Connelly observed the youngster was without vital signs.

“She took her last breath in front of me,” Connelly said in the health services post. “My training kicked in and I started doing chest compressions, and the teacher passed me the AED.”

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Antone-Federici was then taken to Juravinski Hospital at Concession Street and Upper Sherman, just 11 kilometres from Gatestone and the closest emergency department, where she was stabilized.

She was then sent to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) for specialized care.

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It was later discovered that Antone-Federici suffered from restrictive cardiomyopathy, which makes it hard for the lower part of the heart to get enough blood.

Dr. Karen Choong, a pediatric doctor at MCH, credits Connelly and others who took action at the scene quickly.

“Because they came with her, we were able to get a really clear picture of what had happened so far,” says Choong, “Everyone who took care of her in those early minutes played a part in saving her life.”

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Antone-Federici’s mother, Rose Antone, says she was grateful and has a lot of people to thank for saving her daughter’s life.

“As a parent, it was really terrifying,” Antone said. “My little girl had a tube down her throat, and I just kept thinking the worst could still happen. Once we got settled in at McMaster Children’s’ Hospital, I started to feel like things were going to turn out OK.”

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The hospital is reporting that Antone-Federici is back to normal and has been given an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator after her diagnosis to help keep her heart in rhythm. However, doctors say she may need a transplant at some point.

Antone-Federici has met Connelly and as part of the Oneida First Nation, thanked him with a handmade medicine pouch filled with sage and sweetgrass.

“We hope it offers him the same protection he gave to Tiannah,” says mother Rose. “Our creator sent him to her as a guardian angel and we are so grateful. We’re very thankful for everyone who has been a part of her healing journey.”

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