Toddler’s Heart Stops Beating Every Time She Gets Upset Due To Rare Condition

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 15 Jan 2020 14:09
Toddler heart stopsToddler heart stopsKennedy News

A mum has captured distressing footage of her two-year-old suddenly going limp and momentarily ‘dying’ in her arms – because her heart stops beating when she gets too upset or scared.


In the frightening video, upset toddler Bethany Davis is standing by her mum Natalie Davis, 31, when she suddenly stops breathing.

The mum-of-five is then left cradling her little girl’s limp body as Bethany’s heart momentarily stopped beating.

Natalie gently lays her daughter on the ground and after a couple of seconds, Bethany starts to come to and cry while her mum soothes her.

You can watch the heartbreaking video here:


Even the smallest amount of fear or pain can trigger a miscommunication between Bethany’s otherwise healthy heart and brain, causing her to pass out and her heart to stop.

In longer attacks, Natalie and her husband Paul Davis, 33, have watched in horror as their little girl turns blue and her ‘stiff’ body convulses.

The parents described the terror of hearing their children call for them because ‘Bethany’s dead’ when the tot has an episode in front of her scared and confused siblings.

Toddler's Heart Stops Beating Every Time She Gets Upset Due To Rare ConditionToddler's Heart Stops Beating Every Time She Gets Upset Due To Rare ConditionKennedy News

Now, heartbroken full-time mum Natalie and dad Paul worry their toddler is being robbed of her childhood, as they can’t help but panic every time she wants to run around or play that it might trigger an episode.

Natalie, of Mesa, Arizona, said:

It’s the scariest thing. My kid is in my arms lifeless and I can’t help her.

When the episodes first started I would go into full panic mode and ball my eyes out. I’ve always considered myself a calm person but I’d be the crazy person calling 911 and they would have to ask me to calm down because they couldn’t understand me.

Before an episode, Bethany gets this panicked look on her face then she just quits breathing. Her whole body goes stiff and she turns blue and sometimes she starts jerking.

There have been times me and Paul haven’t been in the room and our other kids come out screaming ‘Bethany’s dead, she’s dead’ because she’s having an episode and they don’t understand. It’s so scary.

Toddler's Heart Stops Beating Every Time She Gets Upset Due To Rare ConditionToddler's Heart Stops Beating Every Time She Gets Upset Due To Rare ConditionKennedy News

Bethany has four siblings: Triston, 13, sisters Lily, 10, and Jude, three, and baby brother Elijah, seven months.

The toddler has always been completely healthy and happy until her first attack in May last year after bumping her head while playing with Jude.

After rushing over to her crying tot only to see Bethany stop breathing and collapse, Natalie frantically phoned for an ambulance.

But when the ambulance arrived just three minutes later, Bethany was back to normal and tests showed her vitals were good.

After a trip to urgent care, doctors put the episode down as a ‘breath-holding spell’ and told Natalie and Paul not to worry as Bethany would likely ‘grow out of it’.

Toddler's heart stopsToddler's heart stopsKennedy News

When the incident occurred again a few months later, Bethany was referred to a neurologist who couldn’t find anything wrong with the little girl’s brain, leading him to the same conclusion of ‘breath-holding spells’.

But Natalie was convinced there was something more going on and pushed for Bethany to be referred to a cardiologist.

Further tests revealed a glitch in the communication between Bethany’s heart and brain when she experiences even the smallest amount of fear or pain.

Bethany was diagnosed in November with a form of fainting called vasovagal syncope that causes her to pass out when scared or hurt, and sinus pause which makes her heart suddenly stop.

Toddler's heart stopsToddler's heart stopsKennedy News

She had surgery on January 3 to place a loop recorder implant in her chest to feed the medics information 24/7 on Bethany’s heart rate.

If Bethany’s heart begins to stop for extended periods of time, the tot may need a pacemaker fitted, but her mum and dad are determined to exhaust all other options before such a ‘life-changing’ surgery.

Natalie said:

The second time it happened, she was walking towards me upset with her arms out ready for a hug and she just collapsed and turned blue.

When the hospital and the neurologist told us they were breath-holding spells and she would grow out of them, I felt like a crazy person because I knew something else was wrong. It was like we were being told there was nothing they could do and Bethany would just keep having these episodes.

When we got the referral to the cardiologist it was a huge relief because he didn’t think it was breath-holding and he was taking it seriously but didn’t think it was anything too serious.

Then he called to tell us they’d recorded Bethany’s heart had stopped for 4.8 seconds during an episode and 2.7 seconds while she was asleep and it terrified me. Such a small number of seconds seems like nothing normally but when it’s your baby’s heart stopping it’s a big deal.

Even small shocks like her mum shouting her name have triggered Bethany’s episodes and doctors recorded that the tot’s heart once stopped for 2.7 seconds while she was tucked up in bed asleep.

Toddler's heart stopsToddler's heart stopsKennedy News

With toddlers being particularly prone to the odd bumps and scrapes, Natalie and Paul find themselves constantly on edge – not knowing when their little girl’s heart will next stop.

To help them manage their daughter’s condition, Natalie and Paul want to get Bethany a medical support dog trained to alert them before an attack and keep the tot calm during and after the episodes.

While a kind breeder has offered to donate a golden retriever puppy, Natalie and Paul are unable to cover the $7,000 (£5,389) needed for specialist dog training and have set up a fundraising page.

The mum says any help towards training the pup would be completely life-changing, not just for Bethany but for their whole family.

To donate to Bethany’s GoFundMe page click here.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Health, America, Arizona, child, Heart stopping, toddler, vasovagal syncope