A would-be session of the popular video game Fortnite turned into a life-saving experience as a Texas girl calls emergency services after her gaming parter in England has an epileptic seizure.
Dia Lathora, a 20-year-old who spent most of her youth in Corsicana and currently resides in Dallas, was getting ready to play video games with her friend Aidan Jackson, a 17-year-old from Widnes, an industrial town in Cheshire, England. The two friends talk regularly on Discord, a gaming video and voice chatting service.
Their planned play session for Jan. 2 was intended to be a normal gaming day, but Jackson has a history of seizures, and as they switched their chat from phone to computer desktop server, Jackson experienced an epileptic episode.
Lathora could hear her friend making gasping noises, and called out to him using his gaming username. When Jackson remained unresponsive, she reverted to calling him by his real name.
“The initial seizure ended, and he was just sitting there breathing really fast and really hard,” Lathora said. “And then he went quiet.”
This incident marked the second time Jackson has had a seizure, after a similar episode in May of 2019 hospitalized the teenager for the week.
Lathora immediately started Googling emergency service contact numbers in the United Kingdom, followed by information on how to make international calls. She learned that people generally cannot make emergency calls to another country, so she found the local non-emergency number for Widnes.
Lathora already had Jackson’s physical address from previous conversations, and began a series of menu navigations through numerous automated systems until she was able to speak to a live representative.
“I can’t tell you how much relief I had because if it was another robot, I just wasted another 15 minutes that he could have needed help,” Lathora said.
After explaining to the representative that she was from Texas, and her friend had a seizure during a chatting session, Lathora was transferred over to the local emergency service so that an ambulance could be dispatched for Jackson. After the dispatcher sent help, Jackson’s mother got involved.
During the incident, Jackson’s parents were home, unaware that anything had happened in their son’s room. Jackson’s mother periodically made checks on him every 30 minutes, and the seizure quietly happened between that time period.
“She checked right before, and right after,” Lathora said. “It’s just one of those things where he didn’t fall down so they didn’t hear a big thud or anything, and there was nothing to tell them that this had happened.”
After the seizure, Jackson was responsive, seemingly unaffected, yet Lathora said there was a 40 minute time period where he remembered none of the incident taking place, with the earliest thing he recalled was the paramedics appearing in his room.
Since that time, Jackson has been doing okay. and had an opportunity to meet Lathora in New York City on Jan. 9, courtesy of a British talk show flying him out to meet his rescuer for the first time. They only had the opportunity to spend an hour together before Lathora had to leave for her flight. The two friends plan to see each other in the future, with Lathora referring to Jackson as her best friend.
Lathora said she hopes the experience will break the negative stigma that some people have about online gaming and video gaming in general.
“Look, this is not as crazy as you would think,” Lathora said. “We try to take care of each other. It’s no different than any group of people. There’s always going to be the bad ones and other ones you give the most attention to. You’re ignoring the huge, ginormous under layer of the iceberg that is people who just want to take care of each other, and have a really good time.”
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