The parents of a six-year-old Pflugerville boy call his survival “miraculous” after he stopped breathing and his heart stopped last week.
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Brookhollow Kindergarten student Matthew Gates was at an after school program when he went into cardiac arrest.
“He’s a very rambunctious kid. He’s a six-year-old who likes to run and play,” Matthew’s father Mike Gates said.
Matthew’s grin hides a lifelong struggle against a rare heart disease known as Left Ventricular Non Compaction Cardiomyopathy.
Matthew’s family discovered the heart complication the day before his second birthday when he stopped breathing and collapsed. However, at that time he regained consciousness without the help of an AED or CPR.
Doctors told his parents he would not have issues until he was a teenager, but Matthew again collapsed last week at Brookhollow Elementary School in Pflugerville and stopped breathing.
After school teachers quickly administered CPR and used an AED to deliver a shock.
“His life was saved by an AED,” Mike Gates said.
Friday morning Austin-Travis County EMS demonstrated how an AED, or automated external defibrillator, can save lives.
Once the device is turned on it gives verbal instructions including placing pads on the front and back of the patient. The AED will then search for a pulse, and if there is none it gives a shock to the victim’s heart to restore its rhythm.
“It’s for anyone to use. Anyone can pull it off the wall, and use it if needed,” said CPR coordinator for Austin-Travis County EMS John Villanueva.
AEDs are available in public places including malls, airports, and city buildings.
In 2007, the Texas Legislature mandated that every school campus and UIL competition have an AED device readily available. Schools were supposed to comply by September 2008.
In 2006, an AED saved the life of Westlake football standout Matt Nader when his heart stopped during a game.
“Ninety-nine out of 100 people this happens to, they die. I am that one percent,” Nader said in September 2009.
Matthew also beat the odds, and is now recovering at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.
This week doctors planted a small defibrillator in his chest that will monitor his heartbeat.
Now Matthew’s family is thankful that he survived thanks to the quick action of after school teachers and the help of an AED.
“The doctors call it miraculous he was himself the next day. A lot of the kids don’t make it,” Mike Gates said.