Survivor Stories

Zayden Kuite

01 Jul 2008
Submitted by: Heidi Kuite
Portland, OR

In less than 30 seconds Heidi Kuite’s 10-month-old son silently slipped under six inches of bath water.

Zayden had gotten out of his safety bath seat when Heidi went to get a towel. Seconds later, he was submerged.

Heidi’s husband Anthony returned to check on the baby and quickly pulled him out of the water. Zayden’s lips were blue and he wasn’t breathing.

Anthony started giving breaths and called for his wife.

Heidi had taken a CPR course four years earlier and knew what to do: immediately start CPR. Meanwhile, a family friend called 9-1-1.

“I was praying as I was giving him CPR,” she says.

Zayden regained consciousness and was taken to the hospital. He was released just four hours later. In August he celebrated his first birthday.

Heidi still chokes up when she tells the story.


Terry Whitney

23 Nov 2007
Submitted by: Terry Whitney

When Terry Whitney woke up feeling sick the night after Thanksgiving 2007, he thought it was post-turkey indigestion. But when he didn’t feel better two hours and a few antacids later, his daughter, Erica, 22, wondered if it was more than an upset stomach.

Erica called a pharmacist to make sure she wasn’t overlooking a heart attack warning sign. The pharmacist agreed with her dad: indigestion.

“As soon as I hung up the phone, my dad said ‘Erica,’ and just dropped,” she said.

Erica called for her mother and dialed 9-1-1. She and her fiancé, Josh, took turns performing CPR until an ambulance arrived with an AED. After four shocks, paramedics detected a slight heartbeat and rushed Terry to the hospital.

Fearing brain damage, doctors put Terry into a medically induced coma and a hypothermic state, lowering his body temperature to 70 degrees. They prepared his family for the worst: Terry’s heart was fine, but he might have brain damage.

After four days, the doctors decided to begin raising Terry’s body temperature. They began the warming process at midnight, and by 8 a.m. Terry was sitting up and talking.

In July, less than a year later, Terry walked Erica down the aisle.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her,” he says. “I just feel so fortunate”

Darrel Arnold

11 Jul 2007
Submitted by: Darrel Arnold, 34
Orange County, CA

Darrel Arnold thought he was invincible — until he collapsed on the sidelines while coaching a baseball game last summer. The 34-year-old high school history teacher and baseball coach had suffered sudden cardiac arrest.

A co-worker started cardiopulmonary resuscitation, while two others scaled a construction fence to get an AED from the athletic director’s office. They were able to shock Darrel and continue CPR until paramedics arrived.

Darrel spent six days in the hospital. He now has a pacemaker and an implanted defibrillator to address any future problems with his heart’s electrical system.

His recovery has taken longer than he’d like and includes some lifestyle restrictions. No driving for seven months. No carrying his three-year-old daughter on his shoulders. No push-ups or chest exercises.

“I can’t put any stress on my chest,” he says.

But Darrel isn’t letting that negatively affect his attitude. He has become active in a victim’s advocacy group and is working to implement AED programs in Orange County schools.

“I was very fortunate,” he says. “I have a different perception of what’s important in life.”