‘Believe in miracles’: 21-year-old survives cardiac arrest, being taken off life support

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ATCHISON, Kan. (WDAF) – Beth Horvatic says a miracle is the only explanation why her son, Benedict, is alive.

“People need to believe in miracles. There’s just really is no medical or no human explanation except that it is a total miracle,” Beth Horvatic said.

Benedict experienced sudden cardiac arrest while he was sleeping on Sept. 22. He was taken to an Atchison, Kansas hospital, and later flown to University of Kansas Medical Center.

His brain was severely damaged from lack of oxygen, landing him in a coma for 10 days, and eventually, doctors put him on life support.

“He had absolutely no reflexes, no responses, no nothing. They [the doctors] explained to me in words using catastrophic brain damage. They told us they would expect no meaningful recovery. It was horrific,” Beth Horvatic said.

After days of no changes or improvements, Beth said the family decided to honor something Benedict had expressed in the past and they removed him from life support.

Four donor recipients were chosen, and the family prepared for their final goodbyes.

But after being removed from life support, Benedict began to breathe.

“The doctors told us there is no reason it has gone this way. They did an MRI, and it had improved. They had expected from the beginning it would reveal more damage as time went on, but it had improved,” Beth said.

Benedict began breathing on his own, and within three days his eyes were open and he was responding with his fingers.

He began to improve rapidly at a pace that left his doctors at KU baffled.

He later transferred to a rehab facility in Omaha. The timeline from his initial cardiac arrest to his release was just 72 days.

“I went to bed, and I woke up and I was in rehabilitation,” Benedict said. “It’s shocking for sure. It was a lot to take in, but I could feel my body. I knew I was safe and had my family around. I felt fine. It was a lot to process at first. It’s good to be home in time for Christmas.”

Defying all odds, Benedict was released a week earlier than anticipated and is walking on his own. He will begin outpatient rehab Monday.

Doctors eventually traced back the cardiac episode to a genetic heart disorder.

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