Friday night means football in towns across the U.S. — and it also means increased risk of cardiac emergencies, with crowds of people in the stands and athletes pushing themselves to the max.
Last Friday night, in West Linn, Oregon, a cardiac emergency occurred. Hayward Demison III, a 17-year-old playing tailback for Central Catholic High School, collapsed with sudden cardiac arrest. (Tests would later show that Demison has a heart defect that had never been diagnosed.)
Demison had just caught a pass and run it 45 yards for a touchdown. But then he had trouble breathing, and headed for the bench. He asked for the inhaler he uses for asthma, but using it didn’t help. He collapsed.
Fortunately, Lisa Lyver was in the stands Friday night. A cardiac nurse, she recognized that something was seriously wrong. She scrambled down to the field and found Demison not breathing, and without a pulse. She immediately started cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. There was no automated external defibrillator (AED) on hand at the field.
MSNBC.com reports “She said what Demison really needed to revive him was a defibrillator, but since she could only perform CPR, Lyver prayed for a miracle. Moments later, she got one.”
Beneath Lyver’s hands, Dennison’s heart resumed beating. This almost never happens. It’s extraordinarily rare for a heart in fibrillation to convert spontaneously without a defibrillator.
The young player is now scheduled to have heart surgery to repair the defect, and hopes to return to playing football next season. Meanwhile, his father told the Associated Press that he will pushing for mandatory heart screening for high school athletes nationwide, “so no other family has to go through this.”