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Boy, 12, dies months after surviving heart attack

By Jonathan J. Cooper
Associated Press / April 23, 2012
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PORTLAND, Ore.—A 12-year-old Oregon boy who survived a heart attack during basketball practice three months ago has died after collapsing while playing baseball.

Fire officials say some of the same paramedics who helped revive Isaac Arzate in January rushed back to the school where he collapsed Friday night and tried again to save him. Marion County Deputy Medical Examiner Rodge Womack confirmed Monday that the Salem boy died later at a hospital.

Arzate was a sixth-grader at Stephens Middle School.

Both times he collapsed, the boy was playing sports at Scott Elementary School; however, neither event was an official school activity.

After Arzate's first collapse Jan. 6, fast-acting coaches performed CPR and called paramedics. Arzate had surgery days later at Oregon Health and Science University to repair a heart defect.

In a statement, officials at the university's Doernbecher Children's Hospital declined to say whether Arzate had been cleared to play sports again, citing privacy laws.

Last week, when paramedics responded again to an emergency call from Scott Elementary, they recognized Arzate from their January rescue, Marion County Fire District Chief Kevin Henson said. Paramedics, who had recently completed refresher training in reviving pediatric patients, took over CPR from a bystander and worked feverishly to keep a pulse, he said.

"All calls involving critical pediatric patients are tough, and it was particularly hard on this crew," Henson said.

Counselors were available for Stephens Middle School students Monday, said Jay Remy, a Salem-Keizer School District spokesman.

Arzate's parents could not be reached for comment. His mother, Lindsay Wiens, told The Oregonian in January that she wasn't sure her eldest child would survive his first heart attack.

Hospital officials declined to discuss Arzate's heart condition, citing privacy laws. The Oregonian reported in January that a vessel stemming from the boy's aorta wound around his heart.

Arzate isn't the only area youth to collapse while playing sports recently. Fourteen-year-old Cody Sherell of La Center, Wash., outside Portland, died Jan. 10 after collapsing in cardiac arrest at basketball practice. There was no answer Monday when a reporter called a phone listing for the Sherrell family.

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