Sarah Taffet hit a ground ball to first base during her second game of the day. To tag Sarah out, the fielder charged forward, stopped the ball, and continued moving. A minor collision resulted, and Sarah was thrown to the ground.
I've gotten tagged tougher before, but it kind of took the breath out of me, Sarah remarked. It wasn't a dirty play,
The 21-year-old got up, started sprinting toward the dugout, and then she started to get strange feelings.
She became aware of the shutting of her eyelids. She was conscious of her falling. Though she knew she couldn't, she longed to shout.
Bridget Ward, who was observing from the dugout, noticed something was wrong from the look on Sarah's face. When Sarah passed out, Ward, the assistant sports trainer, had already begun to trot onto the field. She started running in full force.
The first person to find Sarah as she lay having a seizure at home plate was Ward. The father of a pitcher and the father of an assistant coach were two other medical personnel who hurried to the scene. Two more medical professionals arrived at the park that day, following that.
Sarah's airway was stabilized and Ward requested the automatic external defibrillator, Sarah didn't have a seizure disorder but wanted to be safe. An AED is a portable electronic device that checks the heart rhythm and, if necessary, can shock the patient to try to get it back to normal.
Sarah had stopped breathing, so the two parents, a physician assistant, and an anesthesiologist started performing chest compressions. Ward placed the pads on Sarah's chest before the AED came. The AED announces its findings after deciding if they can be of use.
Ward became agitated and yelled, "Clear!", causing everyone to move back from Sarah. When Ward pressed the button, the AED startled Sarah. Resuming compressions. The AED said there was no need for a second shock after almost 30 seconds.
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Sarah's heartbeat returned to normal. She had resumed independent breathing.
For everyone, the scene from last October's three minutes was terrifying.
He vividly recalls the events, including the person saying, "I have no pulse!" and the sound of the defibrillator instructing the medical personnel on what to do. Everyone is simply doing what they must do, and nobody is in a panic, he recalled.
The match took place as part of an off-season event in a Newark, New Jersey, park. The staff agreed that she should go since there was no other medical monitoring even though Ward wouldn't ordinarily be there. The players were ordered to carry Ward's athletic trainer equipment to the dugout after she drove there in her own car.
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Sarah awaited the next person to take the crimson bag. She took it to the field by herself when no one else did and pondered what on earth might be inside that was so significant.
Of course, it was the AED.
Sarah was taken to a nearby hospital in an ambulance. Two days' worth of examinations failed to produce an answer as to why her heart stopped. Doctors made the educated guess that it was most likely commotio cordis, or a cardiac arrest brought on by a direct blow to the chest.
She went back to school in the Bronx, New York but was not permitted to play softball. Sarah was followed up with a cardiologist by the team doctor. A cardiac stress test, MRIs, and electrocardiograms all came up empty about the cause of her heart attack. The expert requested one more test, a coronary CT scan because she was still unsatisfied.
Doctors determined Sarah's left coronary artery was misaligned at birth. ALCAPA, or anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery, is the name given to it. Because the left coronary artery does not ordinarily originate from the oxygen-rich aorta, the heart does not receive enough blood and oxygen.
Open cardiac surgery was required for Sarah. A surgical team needed five hours to fix the congenital flaw.
After three months, Sarah returned to the sport she had been playing since she was five. She supported Fordham as they captured the Atlantic 10 Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Regionals.
Sarah, who received her diploma in May, is working toward a master's in media management. She still has one season of softball eligibility because of COVID-19. She doesn't know what her goals are for her future job, but she is certain of one thing.
She remarked, "Even if it only saves one life, I want to get engaged in AED awareness, CPR knowledge, and just really make sure people know how."