Horsham animal charity worker saves a little boy from rabies

Donna O'Connell receives her award from TV personality John Bishop and  RSPCA deputy chief executive Chris Wainwright SUS-190107-112432001
Donna O'Connell receives her award from TV personality John Bishop and RSPCA deputy chief executive Chris Wainwright SUS-190107-112432001

A quick-thinking RSPCA worker saved the life of a little boy when he was bitten by a rabid dog.

Donna O’Connell, from Horsham, launched a race against time to get a vital vaccine, She made desperate phone calls to medics before driving the boy and his mother miles to get the help he needed.

The drama unfolded when Donna was working as part of the RSPCA’s international team working in Malawi as part of a veterinary team holding a rabies vaccine clinic for dogs in a rural area of the country.

A young boy who had been bitten by a rabid puppy five days previously was brought to the clinic and Donna knew immediately how vital it was that treatment was given within the first 24-48 hours.

She realised that the vital post-exposure medication needed to treat the boy was not available in Malawi so she sprang into action and made more than 100 phone calls to hospitals, doctors and governments across Africa and beyond, to identify what was available and ensure the vaccine was flown in from a neighbouring country.

She then drove the boy and his mother across the country to a hospital in the capital, Lilongwe, so that he could be treated in time.

The young boy - Isaiah Mzonda - survived and is now Malawi’s first rabies prevention ambassador - with his story highlighted on the World Health Organisation website, helping to raise awareness of the disease.

And now Donna’s efforts in saving Isaiah’s life have led to her receiving a special recognition award for her actions in going above and beyond.

Speaking via a video at the RSPCA honours ceremony Isaiah said: “I was once bitten by a rabid dog, luckily enough Donna and the LSPCA helped me.

“After realising that I had been bitten by a rabid dog, I got scared thinking that my life and school are over.

“Because of the LSPCA and Donna, I’m alive today. Once again, thank you.”

Donna received her award from deputy chief executive Chris Wainwright at the RSPCA honours event in London hosted by TV personality John Bishop on Thursday.

Chris Wainwright said: “I can remember receiving a phone call from Donna as she needed support to organise the urgent flights.

“She knew immediately that if Isaiah did not get the very prompt treatment he needed, he would not survive.

“The RSPCA is full of passionate staff who love the work they do but on this occasion Donna really went above and beyond and we are all incredibly proud of her.”