It’s the iconic movie with an ogre and a ridiculously rambunctious donkey that leaves everyone laughing, but when Lawrence actor Jake Leet was playing the role in Shrek the Musical at Theatre Lawrence last weekend, things took a turn for the worst.
“I’m very, very, lucky to be alive,” Leet said.
20-year-old Leet fell while playing the part of the donkey, but what could have looked like it was part of the show was actually Leet going into cardiac arrest.
“People didn’t really think much of it at first because I had already fallen over like three times on the stage on my face,” Leet said.
However, when it became apparent to the other cast members that Leet was not acting, the theater was evacuated. Lucky for Jake there were medical personnel sitting in the audience who rushed to the stage, including Dr. Loree Cordova.
“When we got to him people were kind of immediately trying to take off his costume thinking that he had gotten over heated and at that time it was apparent that he wasn’t breathing,” Cordova said.
Leet did not have pulse and was not breathing so Cordova and the others who came up to the stage began doing basic life support.
“Including chest compressions and activating 911 and doing mouth-to-mouth to give him some oxygen, continued doing that until the ambulance got here,” Cordova said
Once the EMTS arrived and began using the Automated External Defibrillators on Leet. Cordova said it became apparent that he had ventricular fibrillation, which she explains is a lethal arrhythmia, and unless is shocked often times, is not survivable.
“Jake went into a cardiac arrest related to this arrhythmia or congenital disorder, which is an electrical conduction problem in his heart, it has a name called Wolf Parkinson’s White,” Cordova said.
Which Cordova said is a syndrome that people are born with that often times is not detected even through childhood. But without the AED, Leet may not be here to share his story, even tearing up for the first time since he got out of the hospital.
“I’ve been trying to be a jokester for everybody so that they won’t have to worry about me so much, but not everybody is as lucky as I was that night,” Leet said.