With the blood drained from his face, Xavier Hamilton ran from the bathroom screaming.
The tiny, lifeless body of his pet ferret, Trixie, was in his hands.
The 16-year-old’s mother, Lorraine Chircop, shared his horror.
“I’ve got to be honest with you, it was an ‘Oh my God’ moment,” she said.
It took your breath away – I was not expecting that at all.’’
Trixie had fallen in the toilet and was trapped by the lid.
She had no heartbeat, and Ms Chircop immediately called the family vet, Mark Simpson.
It was 10.30pm, and given Trixie’s dire condition, Dr Simpson decided she would need to be treated in the family home at Toronto, near Newcastle.
“A trip to the veterinary hospital while the ferret was in that state would be life-threatening,” he said.
“So, we had to institute some emergency manoeuvres, some resuscitative techniques at home.”
The first priorities were airways, breathing, and circulation.
Dr Simpson drew on his 30 years’ experience as he explained to Ms Chircop, step by step, how to give the 500g ferret mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
“Over the phone we explained the location on the chest where she had to apply gentle, repetitive pressure to establish cardiac output,” he said.
“And she did get a couple of puffs of breaths to inflate the chest.”
Hairdryer to the rescue
Trixie’s excursion into the cold, wet toilet bowl sent her core temperature plummeting.
Xavier commandeered a hairdryer and started “colouring in” his pet with warm air.
After 11 tense minutes, the first signs of life appeared.
Trixie’s gums turned a vibrant shade of pink, and her eyes began to move.
Her life hung in the balance for another 10 minutes until the moment they have been waiting for, finally arrives – a decent breath.
“It was hope. It was pure hope,” Ms Chircop said.
We can do this, we’re not going to let her go.’’
Other bodily functions quickly rebooted – limbs twitched, forelegs flexed, the bowels emptied – but Trixie wasn’t out of the woods yet.
A fraught 18-minute drive to the vet awaited, and Dr Simpson remained adamant she wouldn’t pull through.
“For certain I am going to meet them at work and pronounce her,” he said.
“Despite her carer’s best efforts.”
But Dr Simpson was able to quickly stabilise the ferret, and she is expected to make a full recovery.
During his 30 years of being a vet, Dr Simpson has guided CPR over the phone 10 times.
Trixie is only the second animal to be successfully revived.
Despite Ms Chircop being untrained in CPR, Dr Simpson said she showed calm under pressure.
“She encapsulated all those things about a mother who is put in a situation outside her areas of expertise, she knuckles down and gets it done,” he said.