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Sibling honored for reviving sister who stopped breathing

PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY
On Friday, staff from UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown honored Lyla Morgan, 11, of Marshalltown for heroic actions reviving her then seven-week old sister, Lilya Castillo, who had stopped breathing. Here, Morgan, holding Castillo, is pictured with paramedics Alex Bentley, left and Steve Sinnwell, right, who were dispatched to the scene.

Not every 911 call has a happy ending.

But the quick-thinking by 11-year-old Lyla Morgan of Marshalltown earlier this month resulted in a happy outcome.

While mother Amanda Paigly was at work, Morgan stayed home to babysit her then 7-week-old sister Lilya Castillo. However, when the infant stopped breathing, big sister proved to be a life-saver.

She called 911 and while waiting for the ambulance, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When the UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown ambulance arrived moments later, the baby was breathing and crying on her own. Paramedics Alex Bentley of Cedar Rapids and Steve Sinwell of Melbourne said they were thrilled to hear the baby crying as they arrived.

To recognize Morgan, the UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown Emergency Department, joined by Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer, presented the youth with a UnityPoint Health Hero certificate.

Presenting the handsome award was UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown Trauma Supervisor Heidi Rockwell.

Paigly looked on, beaming with pride and joy at her heroic daughter, who will enter Lenihan Intermediate School next month as a sixth-grader.

However, Morgan said she is unsure if a medical career is in her future.

“The heroics happened on my second day of work,” Paigly said of the temporary job which has since ended. “I think it was a message to stay at home.”

Infant Lilya took it all in, doing what nearly 2-month-old babies do best, occasionally crying and then falling asleep.