STORIES

of

SURVIVAL

Learn about the success stories of young lives saved from Sudden Cardiac Arrest thanks to early detection of a heart condition through screening, and stories of those who suffered SCA and recovered because the appropriate actions through the cardiac chain of survival were taken to save their lives.

Austin McAnena

Austin McAnena

McAnena Austin Soccer e1544762094544 - Stories of Survival

On a training run at age 27, Austin told his friend his chest felt tight and suddenly collapsed. She immediately called 911 and a minute later, a good Samaritan stopped his car to start CPR. EMS administered an AED within four minutes and Austin was rushed to the hospital where he was put into a medically induced coma. With no symptoms or warning signs, Austin was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He survived a second cardiac arrest on October 24, 2018.

Tommy McClenahan

Tommy McClenahan

Tommy McClenahan - Stories of Survival

Kaitlyn McClew

Kaitlyn McClew

Kaitlyn McClew - Stories of Survival

Daniel Medina

Daniel Medina

Medina Daniel 2 - Stories of Survival

At age 25, with no prior history or symptoms, Daniel suffered a cardiac arrest at home. Witnessed by his three Eagle Scout friends, they immediately performed hands-only CPR (to the tune of Staying Alive) until EMS arrived. Daniel was shocked several times en route to the hospital, where he was put in a medically induced coma. He was found to have anomalous coronary artery, for which he received open heart surgery at a second hospital, and follow-up surgery later at a third hospital. After therapy he regained full physical and cognitive recovery and now works with his family to train communities in the cardiac chain of survival.

Matt Nader

Matt Nader

Matt Nader - Stories of Survival

Matt collapsed during a football game in September 2006. His mother performed CPR as he laid on the track, but the use of an automated external defibrillator saved his life. After determining that he had experienced an arrhythmia, a defibrillator was implanted in Matt’s chest. Although Matt had to give up the game he loves, he expects football will play a big role in his future, and he looks forward to seizing the opportunity he has been given.

Savanna Noe

Savanna Noe

Savanna Noe - Stories of Survival

Savanna, age 14, suffered cardiac arrest on July 29, 2012, while in the family’s swimming pool. Her father, who was also in the pool, noticed something was wrong and kept her head above the water while screaming for help. Savanna’s mother came running and helped pull her out of the pool. Savanna’s sister called 911. Their neighbor, an off duty fireman, heard the call on his scanner and quickly responded while EMS arrived. An ICD was installed in Savanna’s chest before leaving the hospital.

Kevin Oill

Kevin Oill

Kevin Oill - Stories of Survival

Coming Soon – Kevin’s story!

Teddy Okerstrom

Teddy Okerstrom

Teddy Okerstrom - Stories of Survival

Teddy, 16, collapsed on June 16, 2009 while running light sprints during a summer football conditioning program. One of his coaches directed others to call 911 and retrieve the AED, while he immediately started CPR. The AED was rushed to the field and used by coaches. Teddy was shocked once and regained a pulse prior to the ambulance arriving. This quick action saved Teddy’s life.  The cause of his cardiac arrest remains unknown.

 

Scott Olson

Scott Olson

Scott Olson - Stories of Survival

Brooks Overton

Brooks Overton

Overton Brook scaled - Stories of Survival

In November 2009, at the age of 4, at Brooks annual check-up, his pediatrician noted a heart murmur, which she said not uncommon at his age. The pediatrician said that usually by the age of 4-5 years, most heart murmurs resolve themselves as the child grows. In December 2010 at his annual check-up, the same pediatrician had hoped that Brooks heart murmur had resolved, or at least diminished. Instead, the murmur was louder and more pronounced. She immediately set up an evaluation with a pediatric cardiologist.

Within 5 days, Brooks was diagnosed with a large AVSD. The cardiologist noted that neither valve was completely formed due to the size of the opening of the septum. He was surprised that Brooks had only subtle symptoms of a heart issue.

Brooks had open heart surgery at the age of 5. He was in the PICU for 3 days and then moved to the pediatric cardiology unit. During his stay, Brooks had a echocardiogram daily. While the doctor was viewing the echo at his bedside, the news was on, reporting about the second student in only a couple of days that died from sudden cardiac arrest. We discussed the news report, and the doctor told us that without an attentive pediatrician, that could have been Brooks one day.

Today, Brooks is a active, vibrant 12 year old. Brooks is coming up on his re-evaluation year, when it is decided if he will need another surgery due to his physical growth. We are believing that Brooks will not need a second surgery.

Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer

Michael Palmer - Stories of Survival

At the age of 16, Michael was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (cor-triatriatum). It was discovered during a pre-particpation physical for basketball, and required open heart surgery to repair. During follow-up visits with his doctor, Michael was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, then later with a second degree heart block. He had cryo-ablation and now lives a normal life with an implanted pacemaker.

Mike Papale

Mike Papale

Mike Papale - Stories of Survival

Mike was 17 when he finished his basketball workout, then went to basketball camp to teach younger kids when he slumped over on a bench. His heart had a very irregular beat, and he stopped breathing. The camp directors called 911. Emergency personnel arrived immediately and performed CPR. When the ambulance arrived with an AED it was used to restore Mike’s heart to a normal rhythm. After being transported to the hospital, he was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM).

Mike received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), and was told he would never be able to play competitive basketball again. Despite having to change many parts of his life, he feels very fortunate to be alive.

Drew Parker

Drew Parker

Drew Parker - Stories of Survival

In 2004, Drew was a high school freshman. He had surfed all summer and attended conditioning camp for his freshman year of football. A few weeks after school started, Drew became ill (vomiting). He would stay at home for a couple of days and then return to school. After a week or so his parents took him to the family doctor who found nothing wrong with Drew. They then made an appointment with a gastroenterologist.

A few hours before a football game at school, he became ill again. The school nurse discovered that Drew’s legs were very swollen. A trip to the ER determined that Drew was in heart failure. After a couple of weeks in Texas Children’s Hospital Drew was admitted to St Luke’s hospital with about 3% heart function. Drew was implanted with a Heart Mate II; he was the 4th and youngest person in the clinical trials. Two years of living with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Drew was explanted and continues to do well. He is currently attending college.

Elizabeth Pearlman

Elizabeth Pearlman

Elizabeth Pearlman - Stories of Survival

Liz, age 21, collapsed while running during college basketball practice. The quick actions of the Head Athletic Trainer who administered CPR and called for the AED that delivered two shocks saved her life. Liz was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) and now has a pacemaker/implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Liz’s brother has also been diagnosed with ARVD.

Ryan Peevey

Ryan Peevey

Ryan Peevey - Stories of Survival

Nigeire Poyser

Nigeire Poyser

Poyser Nigeire e1579280611798 - Stories of Survival

A football player since age eight, Nigeire was thrilled to ultimately join his high school football team at age 16. Because his school district offered student athletes heart screenings, he participated and reported that his heart seemed to race and beat abnormally during practice. Following up on those warning signs, an EKG revealed Nigeire had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. After an ablation and recovery, Nigeire was cleared to return to football. The heart screening enabled him to safely continue playing the sport he loved.

Olivia Quigley

Olivia Quigley

Olivia Quigley - Stories of Survival

Six-year-old Olivia was at gym class on February 13, 2009, when she suddenly collapsed. Two teachers performed CPR on her for seven minutes until the emergency services arrived. They shocked Olivia with a defibrillator and her heartbeat returned. The doctors at the hospital determined she had suffered a SCA, and that her lungs collapsed. As she was being moved, she suffered a second SCA, and was once again resuscitated. Olivia was on life-support for a week and has gradually improved and discharged to a rehab center.

T.J. Quinnell

T.J. Quinnell

T.J. Quinnell - Stories of Survival

Michelle Rajpolt

Michelle Rajpolt

Michelle Rajpolt - Stories of Survival

Michelle, age 11, was born with multiple congenital heart defects. She was living with a pacemaker when she collapsed in sudden cardiac arrest during her fifth grade gym class. Thanks to the immediate action of school personnel, CPR was started, the nearby AED was employed, and Michelle was revived with a single shock. Michelle now has an ICD.

Thomas "TJ" Ramos

Thomas "TJ" Ramos

Thomas TJ Ramos - Stories of Survival

TJ, age 9, collapsed on the practice field in 2013. His coach and another dad immediately began CPR until an ambulance arrived with an AED. After two shocks, TJ’s heart was successfully restarted. TJ has since been diagnosed with Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT) and has had an ICD implanted.

Austin Redd

Austin Redd

Austin Redd - Stories of Survival

Joshua Rester

Joshua Rester

Joshua Rester - Stories of Survival

On July 1, 2013, Joshua, age 21, went into sudden cardiac arrest while working at a local waterpark. His coworkers immediately began CPR on him and used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to shock his heart back to a normal rhythm. Joshua was air lifted to a level 1 trauma center in San Antonio where they were able to stabilize his heart. His team of doctors have not yet determined the underlying condition that caused his cardiac arrest, but have implanted an ICD as a precaution. Joshua has always been healthy and an athlete, excelling at soccer and cross country running.

Tristan Rowley

Tristan Rowley

Tristan Rowley - Stories of Survival

On February 25, 2015, 17 year-old Tristan, suddenly collapsed at school while typing at his desk. Thankfully, Tristan attends a vocational school with EMS instructors on staff, who were able to respond quickly. They gave him CPR and used an AED before the ambulance arrived. He was taken to a nearby hospital, then was life-flighted to the hospital where he spent 3 days in ICU. An ICD was surgically implanted 5 days after his SCA. He has been diagnosed with idiopathic ventricular fibrillation (genetic tests are pending).

Jordan Sansone

Jordan Sansone

Jordan Sansone - Stories of Survival

William Schneider

William Schneider

William Schneider - Stories of Survival

In 2011, three month old William was on vacation with his family when his previously diagnosed heart condition took a turn for the worse. After going to the emergency room, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect of his mitral valve and mitral valve regurgitation. The next day he was air lifted to Boston Children’s Hospital where he had successful open heart surgery to repair his mitral valve.

Sean Shipler

Sean Shipler

Sean Shipler - Stories of Survival

Lexi Sima

Lexi Sima

Sima Lexi 3 - Stories of Survival

Lexi, an avid athlete, suffered cardiac arrest at age 16 while at the gym running full pace on a treadmill.  Bystanders quickly jumped into action administering CPR and using the gym’s AED to shock her heart back to rhythm. Lexi was airlifted to the hospital where doctors implanted an internal defibrillator.  The underlying cause of her cardiac arrest is unknown.  Lexi now advocates for heart screenings of student athletes, CPR and widespread availability of AEDs.

Jacob Sipos

Jacob Sipos

Jacob Sipos - Stories of Survival

Grey Small

Grey Small

Grey Small - Stories of Survival

Grey is a 17 year old high school hockey player. In October 2014, he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the ice rink while waiting to play a game. Luckily, a cardiac care nurse happened to be at the rink and began CPR immediately. Paramedics arrived within minutes and utilized their defibrillator to shock him back to a normal rhythm. Despite thorough testing, the cause of his ventricular fibrillation is still unknown. Grey now has an ICD.

Meghan Smith

Meghan Smith

Meghan Smith - Stories of Survival

In 2011, Meghan collapsed while walking through the airport at age 8.  A passerby immediately performed CPR and got her heart restarted before the AED could be taken off the wall.  Unfortunately, because she was breathing when the paramedics arrived, no one at the hospital believed she has suffered cardiac arrest and her heart was not checked for three days. Her case is now used for teaching at the local hospital.  Meghan had an ICD implanted a few days after being diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and is on medication. She was stable for 5 years, but at age 14,  she arrested at school. Her ICD fired and saved her life.

Anna Smith

Anna Smith

Smith Anna rotated e1575607855707 - Stories of Survival

On August 22, 2019, 17-year-old Anna went into sudden cardiac arrest at school as she was getting ready for marching band. She had no previous signs or symptoms. Thanks to the quick response by those at school, who used CPR and an AED to resuscitate her, she is a survivor. The cause of her SCA is still unknown.

Torissa "Tori" Sorenson

Torissa "Tori" Sorenson

Torissa Tori Sorenson - Stories of Survival

Tori, age 22, suffered a cardiac arrest while playing intramural basketball. A supervisor saw her collapse and began administering CPR while gym officials called 911. Paramedics arrived quickly with an AED, which was used three times to restore her normal heart rhythm. At the hospital Tori received hypothermic treatment and was placed in a medically induced coma for two days. She also suffered anoxic brain damage, but was stabilized and an ICD was implanted. Tori began intensive rehabilitative therapy. With the help of dedicated therapists and a devoted family, she was able to return home after two months. Tori is limited in her cardiac ability and physical activities; however, she works daily to restore the muscle deterioration from the long hospitalization. The cause of her cardiac arrest was Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

Jake Staneart

Jake Staneart

Jake, age 21, was found unexpectedly after experiencing a “weird” feeling one morning following a baseball work day. He went to the school nurse complaining of a prickly feeling on his neck. His heart rate was 42 and he was sent directly to the emergency room where he was given a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy.  Jake had a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted in summer 2015.

Greg Stoll

Greg Stoll

Greg Stoll - Stories of Survival

Jarret Sutphin

Jarret Sutphin

Jarret Sutphin - Stories of Survival

Bacari Vann

Bacari Vann

Bacari Vann - Stories of Survival

Kayla Viscusi

Kayla Viscusi

Viscusi Kayla scaled e1575405966841 - Stories of Survival

An active Division 1 soccer player, Kay suffered a cardiac arrest on May 8, 2019, just a week shy of her 14th birthday, while at home jumping on the trampoline.  Her father quickly administered CPR but she had no pulse upon arrival of the paramedics, who used an AED to resuscitate her.  It was determined her SCA was caused by an undetected congenital heart defect called ALCAPA. Following open-heart surgery she started her freshman year in high school and continues to attend therapy regularly to regain and relearn what she’s lost. She is a fighter and is admired for both her tenacity and positive spirit along her journey.

Owen Vollmar

Owen Vollmar

Owen Vollmar - Stories of Survival

Owen is a twin with a complex medical history, including several episodes of syncope that his parents and doctors believed to be related to his epilepsy. A screening EKG, prior to starting a medication for ADHD resulted in a diagnosis of Short QT Syndrome. Starting ADHD medication without the EKG could have proven fatal. It was then determined that Owen was having moments of irregular heartbeats causing him to pass out. Owen had a stroke prior to being born and is continually monitored by MRI. Because of this, he is not a candidate for an implantable defibrillator. Short QT is rare and a relatively newly discovered electrical disorder.

Jacob Wright

Jacob Wright

Jacob Wright - Stories of Survival

Jacob Wright, age 16, was attending summer police academy camp for youth when he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during a 1.5 mile run. Two police officers were nearby and provided CPR until the fire department arrived and gave him several shocks with the AED. After rehabilitation and a month long stay in Pediatric Intensive Care, Jacob is back home.

FOR PARENTS OF A CHILD WHO HAS SURVIVED SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST OR IS LIVING WITH A HEART CONDITION

Though surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest or living with a heart condition is an outcome to celebrate, many youth and their families are overwhelmed by the trauma of the experience and appreciate the opportunity to connect with others who share this unique perspective. We invite you to reach out to Parent Heart Watch for support or to share your story.