MESA, Ariz. — What Pyper Midkiff experienced during soccer practice was incredibly rare.
About 20 minutes into playing at Legacy Park in Mesa, the tenacious 12-year-old collapsed on the field. Players and parents knew something was wrong but didn't know how severe the situation was.
Pyper's heart stopped.
Doctor Andrew Papez an electrophysiologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital said the star soccer player was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic condition that causes heart muscles to thicken and cause a sudden cardiac arrest. Phoenix Children's Hospital said it's the most common cause of sudden death in children older than one.
“I don’t remember anything from that day," Pyper said in an exclusive interview with 12News about the scary situation back in April.
For her dad Matt Midkiff who was coaching another soccer team just a few fields away, that's not the case.
"I’d rather not remember it as clearly as it was,” he said.
Midkiff said his daughter Emori, Pyper's twin sister, called him. He ran over to Pyper who was still on the ground with no pulse. He said her face was turning blue.
“I was just next to Pyper and telling her to fight and keep going,” Midkiff said.
His daughter was rushed to PCH and had an ultrasound of her heart which is how they learned of the genetic condition. Her family opted Pyper into a national trial the hospital is participating in that keeps cardiac patients' bodies at a cold temperature to prevent further damage to the brain and muscles.
After a few days, Pyper woke up and was able to leave the hospital after spending nearly two weeks there.
Dr. Papez said what Pyper experienced has a one in 50,000 chance of happening. What made a key difference in saving her life, was the fact that two people who were also at Legacy Park that day performed life-saving measures on her right after she collapsed.
“I can’t give enough kudos to the people who performed CPR," Dr. Papez said. "That right there is going to dictate whether or not Pyper has a full recovery.”
Those two people are Anissa Pongratz whose kid plays soccer and coach Lindsey Johnson who is also an ICU nurse.
“We’re incredibly grateful and indebted to them that they were willing to step up and help Pyper,” Midkiff said.
Both women were thanked by the Midkiff family on Thursday for helping save her life. For Pongratz and Johnson, they were incredibly relieved to see Pyper alive and well.
“Just to see her progress and to see her progressively get better it’s amazing,” Johnson said.
“I think you're a miracle and I'm just so proud of you and I know God has some big plans for you and I’m looking forward to it,” Pongratz said to Pyper.
Stressing the point, Dr. Papez encourages people to learn CPR. Adding people should not be afraid to get involved when a medical emergency like this happens in front of them.
"If you see someone collapse on the sports field without any intervention their likelihood of recovering is essentially zero,” Papez said.
As for now, Pyper is not playing soccer but said she looks forward to one day getting back on the field.
We ❤ Arizona
Explore amAZing people, places and things across our state on our 12News YouTube playlist here.