Big sister praised for helping little sister during severe asthma attack in Nacogdoches

Big sister praised for helping little sister during severe asthma attack in Nacogdoches
Lila Summers patiently allows her bigger sister demonstrate a nebulizer. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Lila Summers patiently allows her bigger sister demonstrate a nebulizer. (Source: KTRE Staff)
The girls' grandfather, Ben Todd. (Source: KTRE Staff)
The girls' grandfather, Ben Todd. (Source: KTRE Staff)

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A 10-year old Nacogdoches girl is being credited for rescuing her little sister as she was having a severe asthma attack.

Ryleigh Todd's family calls her a hero.

Ryleigh views it as sisterly love.

The bond between Ryleigh and Lila Summers, her 4-year-old sister, is quite apparent. The two had their arms around each other while they relaxed on the living room couch.

"Yeah, them two are connected at the hip," said Halie Summers, the girls' mother,

So it comes as no surprise that Ryleigh was the one who jumped into quick action.

"Lila was sleeping. And she woke up my Paw Paw with a really bad cough," Ryleigh said of the August 18 emergency. "And my Paw Paw got me, and I yelled out, 'She's having an asthma attack.'"

Lila's grandfather, Ben Todd, knew that she had asthma, but he'd never seen her having an asthma attack before.

"She wasn't breathing real good at all. I didn't know what to do, but call 911," Ben said.

"The one time I'm not here when she has an attack," Halie said.

Ryleigh knew a nebulizer would help her sister breathe.

"And then I grabbed it in a panic," the fifth-grader said.

She was scared but had the presence of mind to go through the steps of hooking up the apparatus.

"You plug this into here after you plug this thingy into the wall," Ryleigh said as she demonstrated.

Then she placed the breathing mask on her sister whose body had gone limp and had turned blue.

"You put the little medicine in here," Ryleigh  said as she went through the deliberate steps of getting a breathing machine operational.

All this was done without any formal lessons.

"She knew what she was doing," said Ben Todd. "She takes care of her baby sister."

The emergency prompted Ryleigh to call her mother who was still 90 minutes away.

"I was just glad Ryleigh was here, and she's a level-headed 10-year-old," said the grateful mother.

There will be some changes. Lila will be taught how to use a rescue inhaler the family plans to request. And Ryleigh will make sure everyone knows how to use it, along with the nebulizer. Just another gesture of sisterly love.

"Lila's a pretty lucky little girl to have such a good big sister," said their mother as her daughters drew pictures at the kitchen table.

Ryleigh said the experience may lead her to a path of becoming a pediatric nurse one day.

If so, she will be needed. According to recent CDC data, asthma affects approximately 8.5 percent of the pediatric population in the U.S., which is more than 7 million children.

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