Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Local 17 Year Old Girl Survives Cardiac Arrest - A True Miracle

The beautiful teenage girl below is a true miracle!! Her name is Kristin and she is a 17 year old senior at St. Francis High School in Sacramento, CA. She recently suffered a cardiac arrest from an undiagnosed heart condition called Long Q-T syndrome. She lived against all odds due to the heroics of the people who were with her when she collapsed, the medical staff who treated her at Mercy Folsom and Mercy General Hospitals, the innovative therapies used to save her life and Kristin's strong will to live. We are so excited to tell you about Kristin's story because it truly is an amazing one. As nurses, we LOVE stories like this. It is what makes us love and appreciate our jobs!!

Photo courtesy of Lisa Jesse Photography

Kristin had recently started her Senior year of high school. In addition to school, she also loved to teach children how to swim. She was a good swimmer and a former water polo player. On September 9, 2010 she was teaching children at Tricks Gymnatics, Dance and Swim in Folsom when she suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest and almost drowned. Two co-workers immediately noticed Kristin, unconscious in the swimming pool, and pulled her out of the water. Her manager immediately began CPR. He was trained and certified in CPR but had never had to use it before, however, his instincts and training took over. He performed CPR including mouth to mouth breathing for nearly 10 minutes before the paramedics arrived. The paramedics transported her to Mercy Folsom Emergency Room where they worked on her for over 2 hours. They were able to get her heart beating again and started a procedure called therapeutic hypothermia.

Therapeutic hypothermia is used on any adults who have suffered a cardiac arrest. It is a procedure where a person's core body temperature is brought down to 32 degrees celcius (89.6 degrees fahrenheit) in an effort to reduce the amount of neurological damage to the brain caused from their cardiac arrest. A person is kept in this state for approximately 24 hours and then their body is warmed up 1 degree per hour until they are back to a normal temperature. This is exactly what they did with Kristin.

Kristin with her classmates

In addition to the use of therapeutic hypothermia, Kristin was also placed on a heart assistive device called a balloon pump, and on a breathing machine and was given several medications to prevent her heart from stopping again. Kristin was unconcious for 5 days but when she woke up, she was living proof that modern medicine works!! She woke up not remembering the event but has no sustaining neurologic deficits which is a TRUE MIRACLE.

Kristin walking for the first time in the hospital

Kristin is already back at school, enjoying what every 17 year old teenager should, her senior year in high school!! Kristin has an implantable cardiac defibrilator to prevent a reoccurrance of the cardiac arrest due to her abnormal heart rhythm but she is otherwise a normal teenage girl.

To give you an idea of how miraculous Kristin's story is you should know that, according to the American Heart Association, more than 95% of cardiac arrest victims die before they ever reach the hospital.

Kristin's work manager should also be highly commended because he played a tremendous role in the fact that Kristin not only survived but that she did not suffer any neurologic damage. According to the American Heart Association, bystander CPR doubles a person's chance at survival. Also, brain damage after cardiac arrest can occur as quickly as 4 to 6 minutes after the event unless immediate CPR is begun.

We highly encourage everyone to take a CPR class. You may never use it in your lifetime, however, if you are ever in a situation like this, you will have a great opportunity and privilege to save a life. You can find and sign up for CPR classes at this link: The American Heart Association.

You may have noticed in the pictures above that Kristin was wearing the "Anita" Annie & Isabel hospital gown. While Kristin fought for her life in the hospital she was gifted this hospital gown by her friend and classmate Lauren. Lauren has been fighting AND winning her own battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We will be sharing her inspirational story on our blog soon.

I contacted Kristin's mom to find out how Kristin was doing and she told me that Kristin is doing well. "She just wants to be a normal 17 year old". Kristin's mom, Lisa, gave us this wonderful testimonial about Kristin's Annie & Isabel designer hospital gown:

"The gown was a gift from one of my daughter's good friends who has cancer. I took it home and washed it and when I brought it back to the hospital, she immediately wanted to wear it. It smelled like home, and the fabric was so soft...she just loved it. All the nurses commented how "cute" her gown was and how it made her feel good...at 17 loving a hospital gown is a pretty special order. When we had to go back for a second surgery that was top on her list for me to bring down to her! What a great gift to give! Thanks for making her feel so much more comfortable and beautiful!" ~Lisa Jesse

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story! I confess to being a talk-radio addict (I am in my car so much shuttling my brood around) and there is nothing but bad news after bad news these days. Kristin looked beautiful in the Anita gown - I should say more beautiful - and I'm sure it helped n her recuperation. Anna and Selena - you ladies have a most blessed Thanksgiving celebration with your beautiful families!