Moms

12-year-old who collapsed is in stable condition at Cook Children's

Five days after he stopped breathing and collapsed from a cardiac arrest, 12-year-old Jack Pittman-Heglund of Keller woke up Tuesday afternoon.

By Wednesday, Jack, a seventh-grader and lacrosse player at Keller Middle School, was eating and talking.

"Compared to where he was on Thursday and where he is now, it's a bit of a miracle," said Tracey Perry, a spokeswoman for the family. "We're all very optimistic."

Jack's motor skills are working, and there appears to be no brain damage, said Kristin Peaks, a spokeswoman for Cook Children's Medical Center. He was in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.

Jack walked home from the bus stop Thursday and was talking to his mother when he fell to the floor, Perry said.

Amy Pittman-Heglund called 911 and began performing CPR.

"Amy did a great thing all because she knew CPR," Perry said.

If she had not been trained in CPR, the outcome probably would have been worse, Perry said.

Physicians told the family that an undiagnosed cardiac problem was probably the cause. Cardiac arrest, which is not a heart attack, occurs when the electrical system to the heart malfunctions.

Perry said physicians are trying to narrow down what kind of cardiac episode Jack experienced. He was otherwise healthy and had no history of heart problems.

"Right now his heart looks really good," she said.

His physicians plan to implant a defibrillator, which shocks a malfunctioning heart to restore a normal rhythm. It corrects arrhythmias and is used to prevent sudden cardiac death, which affects 1 or 2 children per 100,000 each year.

The most common cause of sudden cardiac death is an unrecognized congenital condition.

In 2004, Sarah Friend, 12, collapsed at a water park in North Richland Hills and died suddenly of an undiagnosed heart condition. Her mother, Laura Friend, co-founded Parent Heart Watch to educate the public and address the need for automated external defibrillators in schools and other places where youths congregate.

Hoping to turn their experience into something positive, Jack's family is emphasizing the importance of learning CPR, Perry said.

"It is so important, and you never know when you will need it," Perry said.

Perry plans to teach CPR to parents in the Keller Lacrosse Association, of which she's president. A grassroots effort to spread the word on the importance of CPR is also in the works.

The association is also raising money to help defray the family's medical expenses not covered by insurance. Through a fundraiser called Jammies for Jack, the association plans to sell boxers and flannel pants. Learn more at www.kellerisdlacrosse.com. The association is also selling wrist bands that read "Do you know Jack about CPR? Learn."

Jack was in his third season of playing lacrosse and was passionate about it, Perry said.

"He loved to be outside playing lacrosse," she said. "He's going to be missed out on the field."

Jan Jarvis, 817-390-7664

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