Calvin Haynes went home Tuesday for Christmas.
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Haynes, 15, of Natchitoches nearly died on Dec. 12 during Natchitoches Central’s freshman boys basketball game at Pineville High School. On Tuesday, a day after having a defibrillator surgically placed in his chest in New Orleans, Haynes and his mother, Clara, went home for the first time since the terrifying incident.
Calvin Haynes the Survivor
“I wasn’t at the game, but I was blessed with angels that worked with my son that got him back to life,” said Mrs. Haynes. “His heart had stopped beating for eight minutes, and he was unconscious for 30-40 minutes. Some people say he is lucky to be alive. He wasn’t lucky, he was blessed.”
Haynes, a small forward, wasn’t a starter in the contest, but he remembers being sent into the game in the second quarter.
“I don’t remember going down,” he said. “I remember scoring a basket and going back (down court) to play defense. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the hospital.”
Micah Coleman, in his sixth year as the varsity boys’ basketball coach at Natchitoches Central, was watching from the sideline while freshman coach Kolton Sepulvado’s Chiefs played the Rebel freshmen. As Coleman was visiting with Pineville varsity boys’ basketball coach Corey Simon, Haynes made a nice move to the goal for a layup off the glass.
“I was talking with Corey about Calvin after he caught Corey’s eye with that score,” Coleman said, “and pointing at him as he was running down floor and then collapsed. You see kids fall all the time in basketball, but you could tell there was something different about the way he fell. To say it scared me would be an understatement. I was terrified.”
“It was a dead sound,” said Gage Trahan, a certified athletic trainer and Pineville teacher who was on duty at the game and administered to Haynes on the court. “Initially, it looked as though he was having a seizure. He was very rigid and shaking.”
Donna Lemoine, a nurse from Rapides Regional Medical Center who happened to be at the game because her daughter was scheduled to play in a freshman girls basketball game after the boys contest, soon joined Trahan on the court to help.
Despite the appearances, Haynes wasn’t having a seizure, Lemoine said, noting he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse.
“We did several minutes of CPR,” said Lemoine, a former paramedic and emergency room nurse who taught CPR for 20 years and now is director of the trauma department at Rapides Regional. “At one point, it seemed he started breathing again, but it was not a good pulse.”
Trahan got Simon to call an ambulance and the Pineville Fire Department, and he hustled to get an automated external defibrillator (AED) that was by the school cafeteria near the gym.
“That’s what the patient needed,” said Lemoine, who had also been doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Haynes. “Gage turned it on and started analyzing the heart rhythm, and it advised he needed to be shocked. We shocked the patient and started doing CPR again.”
By the time the ambulance and Pineville firefighters arrived, Haynes was stable enough to be transported to the emergency room.
“When I got to the hospital, Calvin was conscious and recognized my voice,” said Mrs. Haynes, who arrived at the ER about 15 minutes after her son. “He was in and out (of consciousness).”
Haynes eventually was taken to the intensive care unit.
“I felt drowsy and didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “The only thing that kept me calm was hearing my mom and my coach telling me everything was OK.”
“I’ve prayed pretty hard in my lifetime, but never with quite the same energy than when I was on the way to the hospital,” said the 34-year-old Coleman. “Once I heard his voice, that was the best definition of relief I’ve ever experienced. His words were kind of slow and slurred, but I didn’t care as long as he was talking.
“To see someone go from being a happy-go-lucky 15-year-old to someone hanging on for life, that’s how fragile life can be,” Coleman went on. “We prayed several times and told him we were praying for him and that, no matter what, it was going to be OK. We told him we weren’t going anywhere and he was not alone.”
“Thanks to Gage and Donna Lemoine,” said Pineville Principal Karl Carpenter, “we have a 15-year-old male who will celebrate Christmas with his family as opposed to being in a tragic situation.”
Haynes was sent last week from Rapides to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans for tests.
“They did several tests, but didn’t find anything wrong,” said Mrs. Haynes, whose husband, Calvin Sr., a former Alcorn State offensive lineman and Mississippi junior high basketball coach, died in 1997 at age 45 of a heart attack.
“They put a defibrillator in Monday to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Mrs. Haynes continued, “and since everything went well with that, we can go home.”
Mrs. Haynes said because of her husband’s death, she sent her son to a doctor for a physical last August, noting he was “cleared to play football and all sports.”
Coleman said he didn’t leave Haynes’ side the night he suffered from cardiac arrhythmia until both his mother and the doctor told him he would be OK, after which he returned home to Natchitoches and “promptly hugged my kids.”
“The next morning,” Coleman said, “he called me and said, ‘Coach, I wanted to check on you, are you OK?’ That’s the kind of kid he is. With all that he’d been through, he was calling to check on me. I kind of laughed and said, ‘Yeah, Calvin, I’m OK as long as you’re OK.’”
“I just feel blessed,” said Haynes. “I’m thankful there were people at the game who knew CPR and could help me. I’m happy that their school had (an AED) that shocked my heart. If they hadn’t, no telling what would’ve happened.”
And he’s had plenty of time to think about that.
“I’ve thought about how I am lucky to live and have a second chance,” he said. “Instead of taking life for granted, I will appreciate each day from now on.”