Best of Bethesda 2013 - Dr. Shireen Atabaki

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Best Local Hero (Editors' Picks)

Dr. Shireen Atabaki

Photo by Erick Gibson

Quick thinking by Dr. Shireen Atabaki of Bethesda prevented a family tragedy last year. Atabaki was the pediatric emergency medicine specialist in charge when a 2-year-old boy was brought to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The boy had fallen off his bed and suffered a seizure, and he complained of head pain and dizziness in the emergency room. That raised a red flag for Atabaki. The father had a headache and felt dizzy, too, so Atabaki urged him to call his wife at home to find out whether she and their other three children were feeling ill. After the wife failed to answer, Atabaki made the 911 call that saved the four from deadly carbon monoxide levels caused by a malfunctioning natural gas furnace. “That little boy was his family’s canary in a coal mine,” Atabaki says. When paramedics arrived, all but the couple’s 4-month-old baby were unconscious. “The family is doing fine now,” Atabaki says. “But a few more hours in that house and they never would have woken up.”

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