dc martens Defibrillators in schools ‘critically important’
SOUTHERN INDIANA Two weeks ago started out as a busy, exciting, but normal Saturday for the Fonda family.
Beth Fonda was in for a day of basketball: two of her children were on travel teams that had games that day at Floyd Central. Her son, Jordan, played in between those times.
At the early game, Beth remembers her daughter playing as hard as she could. She had new shoes and was giving her all to the sport she loved.
“She played the game of her life,” Beth said. “We beat that team and she just played fabulously.”
But in the second game, things changed. The team was stronger and the girls had to play harder.
Carly played the first and second quarters something she’s used to doing and then asked her coach if she could sit out for a breather. Within a few minutes, she asked to be put back in only to have to stop again.
She was on the sidelines drinking water when she suddenly collapsed.
“I sat down and got my bottle of water and the last thing I remember is seeing somebody shooting free throws,” Carly said. “Then I got dizzy and passed out. It went black.”
One of the coaches saw Carly and rushed over. Someone yelled for an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and the fans her mother included turned to see what was going on.
“We looked over and my friend said ‘Oh my God, Beth, it’s Carly,'” Beth recalled.
The next few moments were a blur, she said. As she rushed down to her daughter, she remembers people running from the stands, clearing chairs to make room to aide Carly.
“Somebody ran to get that AED,” she said. “Somebody took her pulse and said ‘there’s no pulse; she’s not breathing.’
“And that’s when everything changed.”
BATTERY OF TESTS
At first, the people responding thought Carly was having a seizure. But soon, they were employing the AED, to get her heart back to normal.
Beth sat at her daughter’s feet, watching the scenario.
“One of the ladies said ‘step back from here,'” Beth said. “And that’s when it shocked her. And I just remember screaming. I thought we were still talking about a seizure and when I saw that, I just lost it.”
Soon after, Carly was revived. When she came to, she was confused about what was happening.
“I was like, ‘why are all these people around me, what happened?'” she said. “And the only thing I could think of was to make sure my mom was OK, too.”
Carly was transported to Norton Children’s Hospital where she would stay for 11 days while doctors tried every test, trying to figure out what had happened.
“She has not had anything wrong at all,” Beth said. “Nothing. So when this event happened, they started from square one.”
Carly was given MRIs, EKGs, ultrasounds, tests to detect issues with electrolytes with nothing definitive coming up. She was scheduled to have surgery to have a defibrillator implanted in case this situation happened again. That would mean no rough sports, like the basketball and volleyball she loved.
“She was devastated,” Beth said.
But one final test revealed what was going on a cardiac cath showed a congenital heart defect that was previously undetected. She underwent open heart surgery to repair it and when she heals, is expected to be able to resume life as usual.
People at the scene and those familiar with the devices say the AED very likely saved Carly’s life.
Shannon Gibson, mother of Carly’s best friend and teammate, Nora, was at the game watching with Beth. While she’s also a nurse, her first instincts were as a friend and mother.
“Just as a mom, your first gut reaction is fear, because she was unresponsive,” she said. “Really I think that’s what everyone was feeling.