Melbourne Teen's Remarkable Recovery After Going Into Cardiac Arrest
Fit and healthy 16-year-old Benny Cooper was just a kilometre from a triathlon finish line 18 months ago when he suddenly collapsed, going into cardiac arrest.
His dad and doctor, who by chance was also watching the race, sprang into action.
They started CPR before paramedics took over and restarted his failing heart.
"When he collapsed I actually thought he had fainted, unawares his heart had actually stopped," dad Paul Cooper, recalling the traumatic day, said.
Benny said he was lucky his father had taken time out to cheer him on from the sidelines.
"It was a miracle he was by my side. He knows CPR because we do lifesaving."
Benny was rushed to the MonashHeart cardiology centre in Clayton, Melbourne where doctors placed him in an induced coma.
While keeping him alive they also faced the challenge of working out what had made the otherwise healthy teenager's heart give up.
Cardiologist Dr Suraj Varma discovered Benny had a rare abnormality in an artery.
This undetected coronary problem triggered ventricular fibrillation.
"(This) can set off a very abnormal heart rhythm which is potentially fatal," Dr Varna said.
Benny was forced to undergo major open heart surgery to repair the abnormality.
"I remember being in so much pain," he said.
Despite the severity of his condition his parents were confident their son would recover.
"The medical team reassured us that they knew what they were doing and I really had this profound sense off faith and hope," mum Shelley said.
At least half of patients who survive such serious cardiac arrest are left with complications that impact their health for the rest of their lives.
But Benny was determined to get back on his feet and within eight weeks slowly resumed exercise.
Now 18 months on he is back up and running at full speed.
"His heart is pretty much normal as it can be. So he had an excellent recovery," Dr Varma said.
Following his near-death experience the Year Twelve student is now squeezing as much into life as possible.
In addition to his studies Benny is a volunteer life guard, a youth group leader and tutor to younger students.
In his "spare time" he is also training for the Run Melbourne half marathon - a 21 kilometre jog to raise funds for the amazing medical team at MonashHeart.
"Just to be really grateful for the opportunity I have. Not many people get to have a second life."
Story Credit: http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/07/18/16/40/heart-teen-benny-cooper-cardiac-arrest-melbourne-monash