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Stanford University School of Medicine

How a mother saved son’s life after he was struck by a soccer ball

If you didn't spot the story about the San Benito, Calif. mother saving the life of her son on a soccer pitch last week, it's informative, inspiring and genuinely heartwarming -- in other words, well worth a look.

It began on Thursday, Feb. 16, when 16-year-old Jose Agredano, Jr. was struck by a soccer ball in the chest during a game. "The blood started going to my head, everything got blurry and I knew something wasn't right," Agredano told the San Jose Mercury News at a recent press conference at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.

He fell to the ground, his breathing became labored -- and then it stopped. "Up until that moment, I had this emotional connection to the situation as his mother. But at that moment, fight-or-flight kicked in, and I knew I had to begin CPR to save his life," Jose's mom, Gina Agredano, MD, who quite fortunately is a family medicine physician, said in a Packard Children's news article. She called for the athletic trainer to get an automated external debrillator (AED) and emergency crews arrived. The jolts revived Jose, who was transported to Watsonville Community Hospital and later to Packard Children's Hospital.

Turns out Jose had suffered from commotio cordis, in which a sudden blow to the chest -- during a particular period in the heart's rhythm -- leads to ventricular fibrillation, or an irregular heart rhythm. Although rare, it usually affects teen boys playing sports, in part because the chest wall does not finish developing until age 20.

"Many victims of commotio cordis do not survive," said Kathleen Ryan, MD, a cardiac intensivist at Packard Children's Hospital. "In Jose's case, the quick action his mother [took by performing CPR and ordering] the AED to be brought over made all the difference in the world."

It was CPR, which can be learned in a day, not her years of training as a physician that saved Jose's life, Gina Agredano said. Jose is expected to recover fully and said he hopes to inspire others to learn CPR.

Previously: Bystander CPR gives eight-year-old girl another shot at life, Stanford medical student honored for saving a life and Take-home kit helps at-risk kids' families learn CPR skills
Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

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