SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The family of a student who collapsed at school is showing their gratitude to a doctor who used hypothermia therapy to save the his life.
It’s been nearly a year since 16-year-old Dwayne Powell collapsed while playing basketball at school. His mother, Tia Burrows, remembers that day well.
The incident happened in September of 2017. Officials said Powell wasn’t breathing, and his pulse was nowhere to be found.
“They told me I had the ball. I looked at one of my friends and just fell,” Powell said.
After that, school officials were notified, and a test done by an EKG machine showed that Powell’s heartbeat was experiencing a deadly disturbance that could cause a heart attack.
His vital signs were poor when he arrived to Baptist Children’s Hospital in Kendall.
“The initial lab work was really bad. He had electrolyte imbalance, PH was really low, you know. it was amazing,” said Baptist Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Ricardo Queiro.
Queiro explained what was happening to the Powells. He was an athlete with no previously known health conditions and was now barely clinging to life.
“I fell to the ground,” Burrows said. “I started screaming ’cause I didn’t understand what was going on.”
Queiro, however, did and decided to treat Powell by using hypothermia therapy. It dropped his body temperature to a point that could slow the process that causes cells to die and irreparable brain damage to happen.
“We tried to stop the inflammatory process to protect the organs,” Queiro said.
After two days, doctors began the slow warming process, uncertain of how he would recover. Powell then began to breath on his own, but did not wake up until the next day.
While he still has no memory of what happened, a few months later, he drew a picture in class to describe what he experienced.
“I drew where I was on the court, I drew myself falling down with the basketball in my hand,” Powell said, “and the heart ripping out of the page.”
He now has a defibrillator to shock his heart should it ever malfunction again.
Burrows said she’s grateful to everyone who stepped in to help her son. “My son wouldn’t be here today. It would be devastating to me,” Burrows said.
According to the American Heart Association, only about 10 percent of people who suffer heart attacks outside of hospitals survive.
Powell said he’s excited to continue his visual arts magnet program in the fall.
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