Westfield student who collapsed recovering after heart surgery

Telegraph correspondentJanuary 16, 2013 

A Westfield School student who collapsed during a basketball game continues to recover after undergoing surgery to repair a heart defect Tuesday at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta-Egleston.

“He’s on the mend,” Tucker Moody’s father, Trey, said late Wednesday afternoon.

Tucker, 15, has post-operative pain and remains in intensive care but only because there are no rooms available in the intermediate recovery ward.

“We’re just hanging out and waiting,” Trey Moody said.

The surgical team repaired what Trey Moody said was “an anomalous left coronary artery congenital birth defect.”

The condition is not hereditary and is frequently asymp-tomatic. When symptoms do present in children, they include shortness of breath and a lack of energy. Those are two things Tucker never exhibited.

As a result, Trey Moody and his wife, Tamara, thought it odd that their youngest of three boys would ask to be removed from The Westfield School’s Jan. 10 home varsity game with Crisp Academy.

“That got our attention,” Trey Moody said.

Minutes later, while being attended by Westfield’s athletic trainer, Tucker collapsed into his teammates’ arms. He was not breathing, and he had no pulse.

He was revived by Crisp Regional Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Sheila Southerland, who attended the game after watching her daughter play the early game for Crisp Academy. Southerland said she performed “about 30 compressions” of hands-only CPR before Tucker’s heart converted to normal rhythm.

“She called it immediately,” Trey Moody said. “She knew exactly what to do.”

With Southerland compressing his son’s chest and nurses attending each of Tucker’s limbs, Trey and Tamara Moody waited for any sign of good news. Others in the crowd joined in spontaneous prayer.

“I have a pulse,” Southerland said.

“Those were some sweet words,” Trey Moody said.

His son was not yet out of the woods, however.

He was stabilized by a cadre of medical professionals before being delivered to The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon. From there, he was transferred to Egleston.

Trey Moody said the Egleston doctors told him it was Southerland’s expert initial action that allowed Tucker to survive.

“These situations usually don’t end well,” he said they told him.

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