Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
February 10, 2023
Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in young competitive athletes, with one study finding as many as one death every three days in youth sports.
One of those deaths was 16-year-old Matthew Mangine Jr., a soccer player at St. Henry District High School in Erlanger, Kentucky. In 2020, Matthew collapsed on the soccer field.
“There were five AEDs at the school that night, and one wasn’t brought to him,” his father, Matthew Mangine Sr., told the local news. “That night, his initial shock came from EMS. They arrived roughly 12 minutes after he was down.” Matthew died an hour later at the hospital.
John and Luann Ellsessar also know that pain well. They lost their 16-year-old son, Michael, on the football field when he went into cardiac arrest during a game in 2010. “There was no ambulance or AED on the field, and it took 15 minutes for the squad to arrive,” John told CNN. “If that ambulance is arriving 15 minutes later, he’s already 150% gone.” John recalls that the doctors at the hospital worked on Michael for 45 minutes before pronouncing him dead.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the story for Peter Laake. In 2021, the star lacrosse player was already on the varsity team as a freshman at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland. Peter was hit on the left side in what was apparently a normal play, but what followed wasn’t normal at all. Peter told me he blacked out and collapsed on the field.
Jeremy Parr, the school’s athletic trainer, said he immediately went to Peter’s side and checked for a pulse.
“With no pulse, no breathing, we needed to get the AED and EMS activated as soon as possible,” Parr told me when I spoke with him recently.
CPR was started, and in Peter’s case, the AED data showed that his heart was beating again within two to three minutes.
Within three weeks, Peter was back on the field.
It’s an example of how things should work and could work in all schools.