Katarina Weigel is sophomore-nursing student at Pace University. She’s also a sudden cardiac arrest survivor and alive thanks to CPR.
"I don’t look like the face of sudden cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, any time. The faces of sudden cardiac arrest will surprise you," said Weigel.
When Katarina collapsed on the volleyball court in 2010 at the age of 15, it wasn’t the first time her family had witnessed a sudden cardiac arrest. Her uncle had suffered sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 16 in 1984 – and didn’t survive. When doctors discovered that Katarina had an inherited arrhythmia called catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, or CPVT, all of Katarina’s family were tested for gene that causes this condition. Today, Katarina, her brother and her mother all have implantable defibrillators.
"I see silver linings everywhere," Katarina Weigel said. "Because of my sudden cardiac arrest, we know why my uncle died, something our family has always wondered about. My sudden cardiac arrest has potentially saved my mother’s, my brother’s, and my life. I’m so grateful that my coaches started CPR when I collapsed four years ago."
Katarina is now sharing her story in the hopes that it will help save others. She recently joined volunteers at the CPR rally in Albany to call for the passage of the CPR in Schools bill.
"I do not let my cardiac arrest define me; however, I do let it empower me to push for CPR in schools and advocate on behalf of the American Heart Association. This bill is very near and dear to my heart. 16 states have made it mandatory to have their students learn CPR before they graduate. There can never be too many lifesavers, so why not add New York State to the list? Because of the proper training of my coaches and their quick response my life was saved. I am not a statistic, but I am a survivor of sudden cardiac arrest because of CPR."