Local pharmacist saves boy’s life after seizure

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Diana Short didn’t expect a routine trip to the pharmacy to become a life-or-death situation involving her son. But thanks to the quick reaction of her pharmacist, a potentially tragic situation had a happy ending.

Medicine is a regular part of 12-year-old Bradley’s life due to a host of chronic health conditions. He has mitochondrial disease, a genetic condition shared by his two brothers, and some of his symptoms include asthma, low blood sugar, anemia and frequent seizures.

Diana Short thanks Gary Whittle, pharmacist at Moyes Pharmacy in Hampton, for his quick reaction in administering CPR to her son Bradley who stopped breathing after a seizure while in the pharmacy. Photo by Nick Vassy

So it wasn’t unusual for him to have a seizure while in the Moye’s Pharmacy location in Hampton the morning of Feb. 25. But this time his mom noticed that he wasn’t breathing. That had never happened before.

“I know CPR, but my adrenaline kicked in and I just couldn’t do it,” she said. “Gary [Whittle, the Moye’s pharmacist] stepped in and did it, and he saved my child’s life.”

Bradley’s doctors are now looking into why this latest seizure caused him to stop breathing. His mother suspects it could be because the seizures themselves take up so much energy, and that is exactly what is taken away by his mitochondrial disease.

She learned something that many other customers and patients probably don’t know - that pharmacists are qualified to do a lot more than just dispense medicine.

For example, there’s the CPR. Whittle didn’t just happen to know how to do. The law requires that all pharmacists be trained and certified in CPR.

“All pharmacists must maintain CPR certification (basic life support) and each Moye’s store has a defibrillator on site,” said company spokesman Lee Echols. “Gary Whittle was the pharmacist that performed CPR and his two technicians that day were Jennifer Barnes and Ivey Hite. All responded very calmly and professionally.”

“Most people think of a pharmacist as just someone to get your medication, but they were lifesavers that day,” said Diana Short.

Bradley’s seizures started last September, and since he has been on multiple medications for several years it was thought that perhaps one of those medications could have caused the seizures. But the pharmacists are certain that is not the case, having watched his condition closely and mixed the same medications for numerous other patients, Diana Short said.

Bradley is enrolled at Hampton Middle School but classified as a hospital/homebound student. A teacher comes by and works with him a few hours a week, according to his mom.

“Some people wonder why I had him at the store with me that day,” she said. “I can’t keep him in a bubble his whole life.”

As for that day at Moye’s? “I guess angels are looking out for us.”