Kate Donald’s husband got automatic texts to tell him his wife was going to hospital.
Kate Donald’s husband got automatic texts to tell him his wife was going to hospital.

Mum's incredible battle with epilepsy

YOU can be hard pressed to know your neighbours' names these days, but that certainly isn't the case for the Donald family.

The family of five who live in Sydney's Northern Beaches know their neighbours so well they know the pin code to access their home and let themselves into the house - and there's even an emergency SOS WhatsApp group.

But that's because mum Kate, 40, suffers from epilepsy so everyone from her oldest child Jack, 7, to the lady next door knows what to do if she goes down with a seizure.

In fact, Jack was the youngest child in NSW to call an ambulance when he was just three years old.

"We've been trying to teach Lucas, who's three, but it's not going as well, maybe he's not as smart," Mrs Donald laughs.

Mrs Donald's condition is not really a laughing matter.

Just two months ago her husband Ben had been noticing she wasn't herself and suspected a seizure might be coming on.

Because her seizures can be triggered by sleep deprivation, Mr Donald ensured Lucas and eight-month-old Matilda were out of the house with their nanny.

Mrs Donald suffered a seizure at home alone, but thanks to the new Apple Watch she got as her "push present" for delivering baby Tilly, who was eight weeks premature, she wasn't left unconscious alone for too long.

Mr Donald automatically got a message as his wife's emergency contact saying she'd had a fall.

 

Kate Donald’s husband got automatic texts to tell him his wife was going to hospital.
Kate Donald’s husband got automatic texts to tell him his wife was going to hospital.

 

Mr Donald then got up-to-date texts on his wife’s movements.
Mr Donald then got up-to-date texts on his wife’s movements.

If the Apple Watch Series 4 detects a hard fall while you're wearing your watch, it taps you on the wrist, sounds an alarm and displays an alert.

If your watch detects that you have been immobile for about a minute, it will make the call to triple-0 automatically.

After the call ends, your watch sends a message to your emergency contacts with your location and lets them know that your watch detected a hard fall and dialled emergency services.

"We thought the watch could be useful for epilepsy and falling down," Mrs Donald says.

"When I was pregnant with Tilly, I was in hospital and falling a lot. My head was literally covered in bruises.

"We were like, 'What can we do?' Do we get a panic alarm like old people have, but you need to be conscious to press the button and I'm not.

"(The watch) alerted Ben and then he called a neighbour and she called a couple of people in the street because she wasn't home and they knew the pin code for our home.

"They let themselves in and called an ambulance, but the ambulance was like, 'Hang on, there's already someone being dispatched to the address'."

 

The Donald family are trained to deal with mum Kate’s seizures.
The Donald family are trained to deal with mum Kate’s seizures.

Mr Donald was getting up-to-date texts telling him of his wife's location as she was taken to hospital, where she spent four days.

"I was in hospital for four days after, so it was lucky that an ambulance did come," she says.

"My husband had organised for the nanny to take Lucas and Matilda to swimming.

"There was complete confusion because when the neighbours came I was asking, 'Where's Tilly? Where's Tilly?'

"(My husband) wasn't sure what to expect because he was trying to call me and getting nothing."

Mrs Donald says in the past she has sometimes been unconscious for hours before someone found her or she came to.

"It's bad, I've spent a lot of time in and out of ICU," she says.

"It can be stressful, but I guess I've got used to living with it. It's more stressful for the neighbours.

"We are so lucky we live in an amazing street."

The neighbours are used to having an ambulance arrive in the street.

Mrs Donald's pregnancies were so touch-and-go she holds the title of being the longest serving maternity patient Royal North Shore Hospital has ever had.

When she had Jack, she was in intensive care for six weeks and in hospital for a total of 28 weeks.

 

Little Tilly was born eight weeks premature because Mrs Donald had sepsis.
Little Tilly was born eight weeks premature because Mrs Donald had sepsis.

 

Her second eldest, Lucas, is trying to learn how to call triple-0 from the Apple Watch.
Her second eldest, Lucas, is trying to learn how to call triple-0 from the Apple Watch.

Now Jack is the one trained to help his mum if things go wrong.

"There's been a lot of pressure on Jack so he can call an ambulance because he's done it three times in his life," she says.

"That's why we've got the nanny around with us because if something happens she's around. It's hard because it takes away your independence a bit."

When she was pregnant with Tilly, Mrs Donald got sepsis.

"I was so lucky I was in hospital and they caught it so quick, but Tilly had to be delivered within a few hours," she says.

"They said I fell close to the wind that time. It was pretty much touch-and-go.

"It's pretty much put my husband off forever (having another baby), and my neighbours can't cope.

"It would have been good having the watch for sepsis because it would have warned me my heart rate was too high."

Continue the conversation @stephanie_bedo | stephanie.bedo@news.com.au