LAKEWOOD, Ohio-- The parents of a St. Edward student-athlete say they consider it a miracle that his wrestling coaches saved his life after he collapsed and stopped breathing during practice one week ago.
Anthony Williams, the father of St. Ed’s freshman Laurenzo Williams, told FOX 8, "They gave Laurenzo another chance, you know what I'm saying, them and God, you know? God had them in the right place at the right time.”
His son had been the picture of the health for the first 15 years of his life, and as a 280-pound lineman on the freshman football team, was considered a powerful young student-athlete with great potential. But without warning, Laurenzo went into cardiac arrest in the wrestling room at St. Edward last Tuesday.
"I remember running around at wrestling practice in my sweatpants, getting warmed up. I don't remember what happened; I just remember waking up at the hospital,” said Laurenzo.
Fortunately, assistant wrestling coach Mark Jayne and his fellow coaches are trained in CPR, and used a defibrillator to start Laurenzo's heart pumping again, until paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital. His mother, Lori Scott, told FOX 8, "I was glad that they were there, especially being experienced as they were with the CPR.”
After examining Laurenzo, doctors at the Cleveland Clinic discovered he had a previously undetected heart condition that he inherited from his father.
Dr. Tess Saarel told FOX 8, "In Laurenzo's case, the muscle on this left side of the heart, which is the pumping chamber out of the aorta to the body, this muscle is [too] thick." Dr. Saarel says once the teen was stabilized, a device was implanted in his heart that serves as a pacemaker and defibrillator. "It senses every heartbeat and it detects the abnormal heartbeat; it treats it by resetting the heart rhythm with a shock,” she said.
A national survey by the Cleveland Clinic revealed that only half of Americans say they know CPR, and doctors say Laurenzo Williams would not be alive if the St. Edward coaches were not among the 50% with proper training. "I wish every school and coach and student responded the way they did, and treated my patients as quickly as Laurenzo was treated,” said Dr. Saarel.
Sitting in front of a Christmas tree in his family’s living room, Laurenzo told FOX 8, "I was happy and they told me that I would make a full recovery."
His parents say his coaches and doctors have given them the greatest gift this holiday season: the gift of life. "It's a miracle; the whole thing is just a miracle. I'm still trying to get over it," said Lori Scott.
"I'd like to really thank those guys and everybody that put their hands on Laurenzo, to have Laurenzo sitting here with me today, truly blessed with that,” added Anthony Williams.
Doctors say it’s too early to say if Laurenzo can compete in rigorous sports like football and wrestling, but they are encouraged by the fact that he is going back to school on Wednesday, just a week after he nearly lost his life.