CPR-trained pool staff save teen’s life after collapse

Reese Marlenee meets the first responders who helped save her life after a heart attack.(Q13 News)

Reese Marlenee had no idea she was at risk of a heart attack when she went to water polo practice in early March.

The 16-year-old Auburn Mountainview High School student says she hadn’t been at practice long when she decided to leave the pool for a moment.

“I went to the bathroom, walked back, used my inhaler, and then – that’s the last thing I remember.”

What Reese doesn’t remember – is her heart stopping.  She doesn’t remember Auburn School District pool staff starting CPR and bringing out the defibrillator, or the police officer who showed up to help.  She doesn’t remember first responders racing her to the hospital, or the surgery that repaired a previously un-diagnosed heart defect.

But Reese does know – she’s one of the lucky ones.

“I’m grateful that they came so quick…or I wouldn’t be alive.”

Reese Marlenee meets the first responders who helped save her life after a heart attack.

Reese has ALCAPA, a rare congenital defect that limits how much oxygen circulates through your heart.  It can be fixed with surgery – but in Reese’s case, nobody realized anything was wrong until the day she collapsed.

“When they did surgery, they found out that I’d had multiple heart attacks, because there’s scars on my heart.”

It’s fortunate that pool staffers knew how to perform CPR, and took action right away.  The American Heart Association says CPR can double – or even triple – the chances of surviving a heart attack if you start right away.

As for Reese – she expects to be out for the rest of the water polo season, but says she may be able to return as soon as next year.

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