Tuesday, May 19, 2009: this date I will remember for the rest of my life. It was what seemed to be a normal day. I woke up at my usual time, got ready for the day and headed out the door for school. I was a 16 year-old sophomore at Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa. The school day, again pretty typical, ended and I headed home to get ready for my last soccer game of the season which was against my school's biggest rival, Dowling Catholic High School. This is all that I can remember from that day.
My next memory is when I awoke several days later in the hospital, surrounded by my family, clueless as to what had happened to me and why I was there. It was explained to me that I had suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while playing soccer. This was so confusing to me and my family as well, as I have always been active and healthy, had never displayed any signs or symptoms and there was not a family history. I had played soccer since I was five years old, ran track, and played volleyball, too.
From what I am told, I had been playing in the soccer game for about five minutes when I suddenly collapsed midfield and was unresponsive. The coaches called 911 and spectators from the stands rushed to my side to start CPR. Nearly nine minutes later, two police officers arrived with an AED and administered the first shock. The EMS/Fire crew arrived shortly thereafter and began their resuscitation efforts. Several shocks later and still unresponsive, I was loaded into the ambulance and in route to Blank Children's Hospital. Thankfully, I finally returned a pulse. The records indicate that I had been without a pulse for 25 minutes that day.
I spent a week at Blank Children's hospital and was then transferred to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City for further testing. A diagnosis had not been made but it was determined that I should have and ICD implanted. The ICD was implanted, and six days later I was on my way home to continue my recovery. I had missed the last two weeks of my sophomore year.
Now, I am a junior at Valley High School. I am restricted from competitive sports but am allowed to do pretty much anything else I choose. My memory of everything prior to that soccer game is amazingly in tact. Even though it is unknown as to what exactly happened at that moment during the game, I feel extremely fortunate to have survived. I am very grateful for everyone that had a hand in saving me that day, the people performing CPR, police officers, EMS crew, doctors, nurses, etc., and so thankful that they did not give up on me. I thank God every day that I am alive and healthy.
My family has since joined forces with West Des Moines EMS, Iowa Health and AED Access for All to create the "Kayla's Angels" program. The main purpose of this program, in addition to increasing the awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, is to acquire AEDs, place them in the schools and at sports facilities within our community and facilitate CPR/AED training. More information on the program may be accessed at www.aedaccessforall.org.