West Campus senior helps save brother’s life

Using knowledge from her bio-med class, senior Breanna Darcy recognized signs that her brother was sicker than he seemed


Madison Wise

Breanna Darcy, a senior involved with the medical residency program, received hands-on experience at Northwestern Medicine that ended up saving her brother’s life.

Oliver Simpson, Staff Writer

David Darcy, a senior at West Campus, woke up on Thursday morning with an intense migraine thinking it was the flu. Little did he know that a few hours later, he would be in the emergency room fighting for his life. 

Migraines are a common occurrence since he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 12 years old. Along with his migraine, he was also nauseous and had been vomiting since four in the morning. His symptoms made it seem like it was the flu, however, it was much worse.

His sister, Breanna Darcy, had previously taken Honors Principles of Biomedical Science where she had learned about Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA occurs when a person’s body can’t produce enough insulin which causes their body to shut down. She learned that most people realize that they have diabetes because they experience DKA, but since her brother hadn’t experienced it, there was a chance he would suffer from it at one point in his life.

Once his sister found out he was staying home that day, she also decided to stay home with him.

“Looking back at it, it’s a really good thing I did stay home that day. At 10 a.m., he was severely vomiting and screaming. I ran to my mom and told her ‘this is definitely not just the flu,’” she said.  “Just 15 minutes later, my brother was collapsing and could not breathe. I remember him asking me, ‘Breanna what is happening to me,’ as he gasped for air.”

Breanna knew that what her brother had wasn’t the flu. Breanna was able to recognize the symptoms of DKA, that she had learned about in her Biomedical class and alert her parents that her brother needed serious help.

“My kidneys were in so much pain, it felt like I was being stabbed,” mentioned David.

After throwing up all morning, and experiencing excruciating pain in his kidneys, he blacked out from the pain and doesn’t remember too much about what happened later. 

After convincing their parents that he needed to go to the emergency room, they were on their way. When they arrived, Breanna recognized several of the people who were helping her brother because she is a part of the Medical Residency class that MCHS has to offer.

“[He] was immediately assessed and was put on two IVs and an insulin drip,” she said. “His body was so dehydrated, and his kidneys were in terrible condition. His body was fighting to survive.”

David’s tests were all way above average and this didn’t bode well for him. One of the nurses working on him mentioned that his blood was so acidic, she had only seen numbers that high in the blood of the deceased. 

“My brother stayed in the ICU for two days where he was closely monitored and slowly brought down to a normal blood sugar because if they were to bring it down too quickly, brain damage could possibly occur.”

The doctors that the Darcy family were working with had said that if they had waited two more hours, David would’ve been dead. The knowledge Breanna learned in her BioMed class helped save her brother’s life.