It all started out so normally.
Jose Agredano, 16, had a soccer match on Feb. 16. in Northern California
His San Benito High School team was playing Watsonville High at the opponent’s field.
Jose’s parents, Jose Sr. and Gina, a family care doctor, were on the sidelines.
A hard kick sent the ball right into Jose’s chest. He passed the ball and took a couple of steps.
His parents hadn’t seen what happened. So when Jose fell to his knees and crumpled to the ground, his parents thought he had a concussion.
They rushed to the field.
“When I first got to him, I panicked a little bit,” Gina said.
She quickly assessed her son, who was unconscious but breathing.
“I didn’t know he had been hit in the chest,” Gina remembered.
Jose’s condition quickly worsened and he stopped breathing.
“I said, ‘Oh no, we’re not gonna die here today,’” Gina said.
Her training took over, and she started CPR while someone called 911. She ended up saving Jose’s life.
“It was so surreal,” Gina said. “I was doing the chest compressions to keep [the blood] circulating until the firefighters could get there.”
As it turns out, the sophomore had suffered commotio cordis, or cardiac arrest caused by a blunt impact to the chest.
It is rare, with only about 10 to 20 cases a year.
It was almost always fatal until recently, when resuscitation has worked in up to one-third of cases.
The paramedics arrived and took over, reviving Jose with an automated external defibrillator, a portable device that can deliver necessary shocks to the heart.
Jose was taken to the nearby Watsonville Hospital and was eventually transferred to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.
There, doctors evaluated him and tested his heart for two days.
Doctors found no underlying heart condition and no lasting effects.
The road back
All Jose wanted to do after the near-death experience was return to the soccer field, he said the day before his final cardiac MRI to check for any brain damage.
“I just want to get back to my normal life,” Jose said.
When asked when he hoped to get back to soccer, he said, “tomorrow.”
The next day, March 3, Jose’s cardiac MRI was normal and doctors cleared him to resume all activities.
Gina was not as eager to see her son return to the field.
“I’m going to have a terrible time with it,” she said.
She will not, however, have a hard time being an advocate for CPR training. CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival, especially if performed within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest.
“When athletes go down, you have to act quickly,” she said. “You don’t have to be a physician to know to call 911. Things are easier. 911 is trained to walk you through [CPR].”
A new California law that goes into effect with the 2018-2019 school year will require CPR training for a majority of the state’s high school students.
“You never know who you’re going to save,” Gina said. “It could be your own son.”