Mom who collapsed at McDonald’s shares miraculous survival

Just a few weeks ago, Rebekah Schull’s family received the devastating news that she was unlikely to recover from a major cardiac arrest that left her face down on the floor of McDonald’s.

The mother-of-two from Gympie, Queensland, had driven down the coast to do some shopping and was planning to pick up some Macca in Maroochydore before heading home, but as she approached the front door, she collapsed.

“I actually landed on my face, didn’t stretch out my hands or anything. I hit the ground, my chin took full force,” Ms Schull told

A bystander immediately yelled, “woman down,” drawing the attention of a man named Brendan, an ICU worker who, unusually, was eating in his car nearby.

He hurried up and started CPR, something he had never done outside of work, and continued with the help of two other men for about 15 minutes until an ambulance arrived.

At one point, they suspected that Ms. Schull was having a seizure because her body was shaking.

“When you go into cardiac arrest and your heart stops, apparently your body shakes a little bit because your heart and lungs are looking for oxygen,” Ms. Schull said.

A McDonald’s employee, Charlie, who happened to be a third-year paramedic trainee, also stepped in to help, while a girl behind the counter stayed on the phone with triple-0.

As paramedics struggled to keep her heart beating, they discovered that Ms. Schull had a large clot in her lungs and required a “huge” amount of blood thinners to clear it.

As a result, he lost an enormous amount of blood and, being a Jehovah’s Witness, could not accept donated blood, which meant that his hemoglobin level dropped to 51, well below the normal range of 121-151 grams per liter.

Ms Schull remained in an induced coma at Sunshine Coast University Hospital for two weeks after the ordeal, with loved ones having little hope of her survival and told to say goodbye.

“They [hospital staff] I told my family three or four times and said, ‘Look, we don’t think she’s going to make it,’” Ms. Schull recalled.

When her 14 and 15 year old daughters came to say goodbye to their mother, something that could only be described as miraculous unfolded.

“In fact, I woke up when my daughters came in to say goodbye. I was so traumatized by it that it woke me up from a coma,” she said.

“I just cried. It was pretty bad because she knew they were there to say goodbye.”

Ms. Schull’s medical team was not only surprised that she had woken up, but could not believe her cognitive condition, as they had been preparing her family to care for her in a vegetative state should she survive.

“They told my husband and children to expect me to be a vegetable. They were planning who was going to take care of me,” she said.

Ms Schull was released from hospital about two weeks ago and has since been learning to walk again, having lost almost all of her muscles while in a coma.

He also deals with immense chest pain from receiving a prolonged period of chest compressions, something that medical staff said undoubtedly saved his life.

“I’m very lucky that it happened at McDonald’s. I really think she would have died if it had happened anywhere else,” said Ms Schull, adding that a nurse told her when she woke up that “no one survives these things outside of hospital”.

“My doctor couldn’t believe I was alive either,” he said.

Ms. Schull expressed her extreme gratitude to the three people who rushed to her aid after she collapsed: Brendan, Charlie, and another man she had yet to locate.

He also hoped his experience would serve as a reminder for the public not to hesitate to start CPR if they came across someone who had stopped breathing.

Ms. Schull is expected to make a full recovery.

A McDonald’s spokesperson told that the company was proud that its employees provided such significant help in the emergency.

“We are incredibly proud of our employees and the customer support they provided,” they said.

“Our people acted quickly, showed leadership and remained calm despite stressful circumstances. We are pleased to hear of the customer’s recovery and wish them all the best in the future.”

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