Patrick Plunkett is lucky to be alive after a frightening incident six months ago.
The 12-year-old from Tampa, Florida, was pitching in a baseball game.
As soon as he released the ball from his fingertips, Patrick said he knew the pitch would result in a line drive straight back at him.
It struck him square in the chest.
“It was a lot of pain when I felt it hit in me in my heart,” Patrick recalled to WFTS Tampa.
He fell to the ground, stopped breathing, and the entire ball park came to a standstill.
“The ball hit him at the right part of the heart,” said his father, Patrick Sr.
As his mom looked on, terrified, another mother was sitting in the bleachers.
Katie Patel had a son in the game, too. Fortunately, she was training to be a nurse. She knew the seriousness of what she’d just witnessed.
“The window of time that that can happen is 1/60 of a second, in one heartbeat,” Katie said.
Katie said she knew she had less than four minutes to save his life. She rushed to begin CPR. She heard Patrick cough. Then, he opened his eyes. An ambulance rushed the 12-year-old to the hospital.
Patrick suffered a commotio cordis, according to the Ocala Star Banner, a potentially lethal disruption to the heart’s rhythmic cycle, caused by an intense blow to the organ. The fatality rate is around 65% with prompt care, and 80% without it.
“The first time my girls ever saw me cry was when we went to Gainesville to go see Patrick in the hospital,” recalled Patrick Sr. “They had never seen me cry before.”
For days, doctors stabilized his heart. When Patrick’s family visited the hospital where Katie was training — they thanked her.
“I’ll never forget his face,” Katie said. “I am so glad that I was there.”
Katie is determined to never let this happen again. She and Patrick’s parents have raised money for CPR training for kids in their community. They’ve gotten enough funds for training for the next 10 years. They’ve also helped to equip fields with lifesaving equipment.
“When I woke up, I knew that was a miracle,” said Patrick.
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Footage and photos provided by WFTS Tampa.
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