I remember absolutely nothing about that day or the days leading up to September 11, 2017. This is what my friends who were there told me happened that day.
On September 11 at around 1:00 in the afternoon, my heart stopped beating in the lobby of our gymnasium at Bayside Academy. I had been preparing to teach my 3rd grade physical education class when I simply fell to the floor. Two of my students, John Carter Norton and Brantley Turner, found me. They brought Dr. Megan McCall to the lobby and she saw that something was very wrong. She notified Coach Phil Lazenby and told him that I was down. When Phil arrived in the gym, my face had turned blue. He immediately began CPR.
Many came to my aid. Coach Jamie Ferguson assisted Phil with the CPR. Our trainer, Beth Johnston, came to help, as did Nurse Dee Tran. Others called 911 and went out to meet the ambulance.
At that point, I had no heartbeat. Beth retrieved our AED from the lobby wall. She shocked me twice and the defibrillator acknowledged a heartbeat. This is the reason I am alive today and I have full brain capacity. It was teamwork at its best…my friends saved me. Two 3rd graders saved me. Bayside Academy having the right equipment at school saved me. I am forever in their debt.
I was awakened two days after my heart failure occurred. I had absolutely no idea what had happened. I couldn’t believe I my heart had stopped beating. I had absolutely no warning signs or symptoms. My condition is called Ventricular Fibrillation. It’s a rare occurrence, with fewer than 200,000 cases per year. I am a very fortunate man.
On Friday, Dr. John Boyer did open heart surgery on me and did one bypass as I had 70% blockage of one artery. A week and a day after my heart stopped, I had an ICD or implantable cardioverter defibrillator unit placed in my chest to regulate my heart rate and shock it back into rhythm if it gets out of control.
I could fill this page with gifts I have been given…a second chance at life. Since my heart attack, I saw my oldest son graduate college. I saw my youngest son graduate high school. I watched my middle son coach in a college football game on TV and will see him graduate this summer. I get to hug my wife and thank God for her daily. I was so fortunate to be coaching as our Bayside girls’ golf team finished runner-up in the state tournament. I was honored to be selected into the Fairhope High School Athletic Hall of Fame. I was able to return to work and coach kids again. I was able to go to Grandfather Mountain in N. Carolina. I went to Disney (first time).
Life is good. Every day is a gift.
- Mark Lasseter