It was just a normal day for high school junior Sam Mazzeo until fifth period PE class. That’s when he collapsed.
He didn’t have a pulse, so a teacher immediately started CPR.
“I don’t remember anything at all from that day,” said Mazzeo.
It took the school’s AED machine to get his heart beating again.
It turns out Mazzeo has arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, or ARVD.
It’s a rare form of cardiomyopathy that weakens the hearts ability to pump blood.
His pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Jamie Decker of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said, “his heart started pumping really fast and couldn’t pump any blood out to his brain or any of his organs and he passed out.”
Mazzeo’s condition is often fatal.
“The diagnosis is sometimes hard to make because they don’t often have symptoms. Sometimes sudden death is the presenting symptom,” said Dr. Decker.
Mazzeo knows he’s lucky but the diagnosis turned his life upside down.
He used to play soccer, basketball and football but is longer allowed to do any contact sports.
“It’s a hard conversation to have because you know walking in there, a lot of times they’re athletes and they have aspirations to play collegiate sports and you know that’s not going to happen any more,” said Dr. Decker.
Mazzeo has adjusted and is now helping coach the football team at Cypress Creek Middle High School in Wesley Chapel.
“I was heart broken but now I’ve learned to grow into what I’m doing now, which is coaching and helping other players succeed,” he said.
Mazzeo is also keenly aware of how important it is to know CPR.
“You just don’t know. Anybody could pass out on the field or in the mall or at a restaurant or anything. So you just got to know it and help out when you can.”