Zach Young was 21 years old in January when he got a phone call inviting him to play hockey — a call that probably saved his life.
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Zach was home on Long Island with his dad when a friend invited him to the rink in nearby Bethpage. Once he got there, Zach’s heart stopped suddenly and without warning.
“I was sitting on one of the bleachers right out side the rink and apparently I started to feel really hot and I just went down.”
Zach collapsed just before 11 p.m. that night. His quick-thinking friends grabbed an automatic external defibrillator, attached the pads on Zach’s chest, and pressed the button. Doctors said he would have died without it.
“I turned the AED on, it advised a shock,” said Rich Holscher, Zach’s friend. “I shocked him once. Chris started CPR.”
Zach was in the right place at the right time: at the Sportime hockey rink with his friends and a trained staff.
His family said had Zach not gotten the call to go play he would have stayed home that night, gone to bed, and never woken up.
“The fact that they needed a goalie and they called me is essentially one of the only reasons why I’m still here,” he said.
“We did what we had to do,” said Chris O’Connor. “I’m a police officer, Richie’s a nursing student. This is unfortunately some of the stuff we have to train for.”
Zach was rushed from the rink to the hospital where he was shocked 10 more times. He was put into a medically induced coma for a week before he woke up. It turns out he has a genetic condition that was never diagnosed. He is expected to make a full recovery.
His parents are thrilled.
“Our lives have changed,” said Audrey Young, Zach’s mother. “We are happy. He’s healthy, getting better everyday.”
Zach now has a defibrillator to shock his heart if it stops. He said it is a small price to pay for a new life.
“I was given another chance and I intend to do everything with it,” he said.
He is going to start by heading back to Binghamton University in the fall.