Mother thanks teachers who helped save her daughter after going into cardiac arrest

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INDIANAPOLIS – Kenya Cheatham is thankful for two quick-thinking teachers who came to her daughter’s rescue when she went into cardiac arrest at school.

“When they found her, she was unresponsive, no pulse. She had foaming at the mouth. I mean it was ugly,” said Kenya Cheatham, the girl’s mother.

Kenya says 13-year-old Kenedi Cheatham has always been healthy, until last week. Students at Crispus Attucks High School found Kenedi passed out in a stairwell. Teachers Katie Knutson and Heather Fussnecker were the first to respond. They started CPR and that didn’t work. So they turned to an AED device or heart defibrillator.

“I actually was on a heart monitor when I did it so I knew exactly top right, lower left so we could slap those on,” said Knutson. “And fortunately once we got the AED all of our actions were reassured. The AED told us what to do when to give the compressions, how many compressions to give,” said Fussnecker.

Doctors say it was that initial reaction that allows Kenedi to be released from the hospital with no brain damage a week later. Doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health say Kenedi experienced a form of cardiac arrest and could have suffered severe damage to her brain.

“That’s the reason she was found on the floor because there was really no blood flow to her body and the longest we go without the flow to the body every minute we go without this the brain had more damage and the earlier they reacted in the school is what saved her brain,” said Dr. Riad Lutfi from Riley Pediatric Critical Care.

Doctors are running extensive tests to see what caused Kenedi’s sudden heart condition. Meanwhile her mom says she can’t thank those teachers enough.

“These two people and what they did saved my baby and I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

Kenedi was released with a defibrillator she named “Lifesaver.”

Teachers at Crispus Attucks will receive additional training to deal with situations like Kenedi’s or other students who may suffer from heart problems.

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