Quick-Thinking Toddler Saves Dad’s Life, Thanks to FaceTime

Molly McCabe stands with her dad smiling.
Image Source: The McCabe Family

The last time my toddler grabbed my phone, I got annoyed. I don’t want my kids playing with my phone and seeing weird things on the Internet or hitting the wrong button and accidentally adding pricey things to my Amazon cart. But after reading about one amazing toddler from Virginia who grabbed her dad’s phone and used it to save his life, I’m rethinking the role a smartphone can play in a family’s life.

On the Fourth of July, mom of two Devon McCabe was at work while her family was at home enjoying summer break. But when her husband Trevor suddenly collapsed on the floor and was unresponsive, it was the couple’s quick-thinking 3-year-old Molly who came to the rescue.

According to the McCabes, Molly instantly grabbed her dad’s smartphone and used FaceTime to call her mom at work. Devon missed the first call, but luckily got the second one — and it may have been the very thing that saved Trevor’s life.

“My immediate reaction was one of disbelief,” Devon tells Babble. “When I saw him collapsed on the ground, I couldn’t even think straight. For a second I thought maybe he had passed out, but inside I knew it was far more serious. Before I could think, my body just started shaking all over. At this point, my 3-year-old was sobbing crying and asking me to come home.”

Molly McCabe stands in a pink dress, holding hands with her little sister.
Image Source: The McCabe Family

After Devon received the terrifying FaceTime from her daughter, she says she immediately called her neighbor and close friend Janelle, and asked her to literally run next door and get help.

Meanwhile, Devon raced home from work herself, where she soon arrived to find paramedics working on her husband in the ambulance.

“I ran to the backyard to see my children,” she recalls. “I broke down crying when I saw my friend and collapsed in her arms. Molly came up to me and told me ‘Don’t worry Mommy, Daddy is going to be okay now.’”

Shortly after, Trevor was rushed to the hospital where he received life-saving treatments. It wasn’t long until the family learned that he’d suffered a stroke.

Now, nearly two weeks later, Devon says she’s happy to report that her husband is making “incredible progress.”

“He has been off life support for three days now and is getting stronger every day,” Devon tells Babble. “He still cannot eat or drink, so he has a feeding tube, but his speech is getting clearer with each day. Today was a big day, as he started therapy to learn how to walk again!”

The McCabe family poses in front of a tree smiling.
Image Source: The McCabe Family

As a mother and a medical worker, Devon has a lot to say about what families should know about kids using phones in emergencies. And frankly, after learning about her family’s incredible story, I am definitely planning to teach my kids how to make emergency phone calls, too.

“Although we never intentionally taught Molly how to use FaceTime, and truly did not know that she could do that on her own,” she says, “we are obviously now firm believers in teaching our children what do in case of emergencies. In this day and age, we are very aware of the dangers too much screen time can have on our children … but there is [also] value in understanding that our children are capable of more than we think.”

Molly McCabe poses in a cape and superhero mask, with a shirt that says "Born to Be Me."
Image Source: The McCabe Family

Devon says she hopes other parents who hear their story will use it to have a conversation with their own children about what to do in an emergency.

“[I want parents] to teach them what to do when they are scared, and that it is important to be brave even when we are afraid,” Devon adds.

Talk about a happy ending to a truly scary situation — and an important reminder that children, even at just 3 years old, really are capable of incredible things.

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