West Des Moines high school soccer player Kayla Donahe (not pictured) can’t remember what happened to her on May 19th, but she’s not saying that because she lied to her parents about dating some older guy, or because she was caught drinking by police. No, she really can’t remember, because she was clinically dead after going into cardiac arrest during a game.
Parents and coaches rushed to Kayla’s side. One man began performing CPR. Another called out to Nick Sullivan, an assistant coach on the Dowling boys’ soccer team who just happened to be on the adjacent field. He also just happened to be a medical student, a few days away from graduation at Des Moines University.
“CPR by the bystanders, it’s a bridge. It’s obviously not as effective as your heart beating, but 30 to 40 percent is a lot better than zero,” says Dennis Stofer, a paramedic who was one of first to arrive at the scene. “It gives time. Very precious time.”
[...][Kayla's parents] say there’s no history of heart troubles in the immediate family, which only compounds the mystery. Nearly four weeks after the fact, the specialists still aren’t sure what triggered Kayla’s collapse in the first place.
Kayla now has a small defibrillator unit implanted above her heart. She can no longer play sports or even lift her arms over her head. Of course, the other team still swears that she totally took a dive. On the bright side, she has a great excuse now for failing math and science.