Young Athlete’s Heart Recovers Following Cardiac Arrest During Workout


Like many 16-year-olds, Tim Deits was always moving. When not playing hockey, Tim could typically be found working out at his parents’ home gym in Huntington Beach, California. One day, he drank a pre-workout drink and hit the weights in the garage, but shortly after he started his workout, he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. Tim’s parents, Michelle and Ted, found their young, healthy teenage son turning blue on the floor as they returned home from walking the dog.

Ted immediately began administering CPR as his wife Michelle, called 9-1-1. When paramedics arrived, they loaded Tim into the ambulance and used the defibrillator twice to try and reset Tim’s heartbeat. On the way to the hospital in Newport Beach, California, they used the defibrillator once again and got a pulse, but Tim’s body had gone into cardiogenic shock – a condition that occurs when vital organs start to shut down due to lack of oxygen.

By the time Tim arrived at the hospital, Dr. Anthony Caffarelli, Dr. Radhakrishan Gandhi and Dr. Mahmoud Eslami-Farsani knew that they needed to restore blood flow to Tim’s organs right away. The physicians inserted two Impella® heart pumps: the Impella CP® and Impella RP® to support Tim’s heart. Just two days prior, the team became certified to administer the Impella RP device.

While on Impella support, Tim’s heart muscle was able to rest and recover, and blood flow was restored to his organs. Though his doctors initially thought Tim may need to receive a heart transplant, his heart recovered well enough to avoid it.

Days later, the Impella pumps were removed and Tim’s heart began beating on its own again. Because Tim had gone into cardiogenic shock, doctors had put him into a thermo-induced coma for several days to slow his organs from shutting down. His parents feared that there could be potential neurological damage from the coma. But when he came to, Tim had two questions right away: “Can I have a glass of water?” and “Where is my phone?”

Tim was back on Snapchat right away, catching up on the social life he’d been absent from in the days since his heart attack. After his week-long recovery in the hospital, he returned home just in time for Thanksgiving. A few days after he returned home, Tim attended one of his team’s hockey games at school.

Today, Tim is feeling back to normal. Genetic tests confirmed his heart event was due to Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD), a rare form of cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle of the right ventricle (RV) is replaced by fat and/or fibrous tissue causing the heart muscle to weaken. His doctors placed an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator – an ICD – to monitor his heartbeat, but he feels so good that he’s back to his normal and active life – playing hockey, exercising and snowboarding.

Learn more about Impella® heart pumps