THE mother of a two-year-old boy whose heart stopped for 39 minutes has told how she saved his life – after initially thinking he was playing a joke.

Yesterday, young Zach Hilary seemed like any other boy his age, as he and his mother Trudy were reunited with the ambulance crew who helped to save him.

But only five months ago, his family were told he was unlikely to survive after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing with older brother Jake, at their home in White House Gardens off Tadcaster Road, York.

Mrs Hilary said: “I thought he was just pretending at first, but then I noticed he was all floppy and grey and making strange noises. I phoned 999 straight away and I did mouth-to-mouth while they were on speaker phone and until the ambulance arrived.

“They shocked him in the ambulance and when we got to the hospital it just went mental. They gave him three shots of adrenalin before his heart started beating again.”

Dad Dave, 37, who was on a training course in Leeds at the time of the emergency said: “His breathing stopped, then his heart stopped. It stopped for 39 minutes before he was resuscitated at York Hospital.”

After being resuscitated, Zach was then taken to Leeds General Infirmary where he was put into an induced coma and placed in intensive care for ten days as doctors battled to reduce the swelling on his brain.

Mrs Hilary said: “They told us that night we could lose him or that he would have significant brain damage.

“He was placed on lots of medication and when he came of his ventilator after nine days he was weaned of the medicine – that’s when he recognised me for the first time.

“Through all this time we thought he was going to die. Eventually they told me he wasn’t critical anymore and that he was coming round.”

Zach is now back at home with his family, including new brother Scott, who is just six-months-old; though his mother says he is still undergoing physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

“We could tell he still had his playful nature,” said his mother. “We are just delighted he was the same.”

The cause of the heart attack, however, remains a mystery. Mr Hilary said: “They still don’t know what it was and because they don’t know why it happened they can’t say if it will happen again. They said we could fit a pace-maker or a tiny defibrilator but they aren’t designed for a two-year-old.”

Yesterday, the family had an emotional reunion with Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic Amy Mackintosh and emergency medical technician, John Jankee, who helped save Zach’s life on January 26.

Mr Hilary said: “This is the first time I have met the them. Obviously it’s quite emotional to meet the people who saved your son’s life.”

Miss Mackintosh said: “What his mother did was vital.

“It’s the first child I have been to in six years that I have actively had to resuscitate. It’s fairly unusual.”

Mr Jankee said: “It was very emotional – as soon as I saw him I had tears in my eyes.”