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Hero Mom Jumps Into Action & Saves Teen Daughter’s Life When She Suffers Cardiac Arrest at Cheer Competition
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Hero Mom Jumps Into Action & Saves Teen Daughter’s Life When She Suffers Cardiac Arrest at Cheer Competition

Three cheers for Mom!

It was supposed to be a day of cheer, instead, it turned into a parent's worst nightmare.

North Carolina mom, Andrea Joe, was attending her teen's cheer competition when the unthinkable happened — her 17-year-old daughter went into cardiac arrest.

Keianna Joe was warming up with her team backstage when it happened. One minute she was flying through the air, performing a stunt she had done hundreds of times, the next, she was on the ground. No longer breathing.

A Mother's Quick-Thinking Saves Her Daughter's Life

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As soon as Andrea saw her daughter's coach screaming for help, she knew something was horribly wrong.

“I saw her coach come running out of the back door of the other building screaming just frantically, ‘Get an ambulance. Get an ambulance. We need the ambulance here now,’" Andrea told TODAY.

She rushed to her daughter's side. A nearby coach, who also happened to be a registered nurse, had already begun CPR after discovering that Keianna had no pulse.

Andrea, a CPR-certified medical assistant, immediately took over.

For 10 excruciating minutes she desperately worked to save her daughter's life. She administered 3 to 4 rounds of CPR before someone arrived with an automated external defibrillator or AED. Luckily for Keianna, the high school keeps the life-saving device in the gym.

Andrea used it to deliver an electric shock to her daughter's heart.

"I grabbed the pads and I just kind of ripped her uniform up over her head and threw the pads on her and hit the button," Andrea told Good Morning America.

"It said, 'shock advised,' and that was alarming because you train on these devices all the time and every time you train on them, they never deliver a shock because it's not a live patient."

After shocking her twice and administering another round of CPR, it finally worked. Keianna took a breath and her heart began beating again.

Not only did Andrea give her daughter life but she ultimately saved it as well.

What Caused a Healthy Cheerleader to Go Into Cardiac Arrest?

cheerleader suffers cardiac arrest.
Keianna Joe | GoFundMe

Minutes later, paramedics arrived and rushed the teen to a local hospital. According to a GoFundMe campaign organized by the family, doctors placed Keianna in a medically induced coma and eventually transferred her to Duke's University Hospital which specializes in cardiology.

In the 10 days she spent in the hospital, Keianna underwent multiple tests and MRIs as specialists worked to uncover the cause of her arrest. As test after test came back normal, they eventually diagnosed it as "idiopathic cardiac arrest."

In other words, they have no idea what happened.

She now has a small defibrillator implanted in her chest which, according to Andrea, "will monitor her rhythm at all times and if needed will give an emergency shock to the heart."

While doctors still don't know what caused the cheerleader to go into cardiac arrest, they do know what saved her life — she has her mom to thank for that.

“Her mom, just without hesitation, shocked her daughter back into a normal rhythm and saved her life," said Dr. Zebulon Zachary Spector, the pediatric cardiologist at Duke University Hospital who performed surgery on Keianna.

The Importance of Knowing CPR and First-Aid

According to the CDC, 70-90% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital die before ever reaching the hospital. It is also the leading cause of death in high school athletes.

Without her mother's training and quick thinking, Keianna's story would have ended much differently.

Andrea is not only incredibly grateful for her daughter's life but also for the high school having an AED in the first place. Something that isn't required in most states.

The mother-daughter duo hopes that by sharing their story, all facilities hosting sporting events for kids and adults will make it mandatory to have an automated external defibrillator on the premises.

Additionally, they hope they can inspire others to learn CPR and first aid. After all, it could literally save someone's life. Maybe even the life of someone you love.

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