A North Texas high school soccer star feels grateful to be alive. Christian Lerma spoke out for the first time since collapsing at a game last Friday night.
The Jesuit Dallas player’s life was likely saved by the opposing team’s athletic trainer and bystanders using an automated external defibrillator or AED.
“I feel good. I feel happy to be alive,” said Lerma. “I’ve gotten a lot of support throughout these last couple days, a lot of visitors and I’m just happy to be alive.”
With his mother recording video on her cell phone, Lerma looked back on Friday’s game.
His Jesuit team was taking on J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson.
“I just remember a couple of my teammates were next to me,” he said. “I told them I was dizzy and a couple of my other teammates were also close to me and I told them the same thing and I just remember I sat down and after that I don’t remember anything.”
J.J. Pearce athletic trainer Tara Grubbs does remember.
“I was just here on the sideline watching the game,” she said. “[Jesuit is] trying to score to tie it up and we’re just under fire trying to not get scored on and so we go in the game and at that a kid just goes down.”
Photographer Albert Pena captured Grubbs rushing to Lerma’s side.
“He was just a blank stare,” she said. “I realized he wasn’t really responsive and he started having labored breathing and as soon as that happened I screamed for someone to bring me the AED.”
An automated external defibrillator, or AED, used to jump start the heart.
Grubbs showed NBC 5 how the machines work.
“Stay calm. Follow these instructions. Make sure 911 is called now,” a voice in the AED commands.
“Everybody’s like was it scary,” said Grubbs. “Yes it was scary! But I was just doing what I knew to do.”
It was her first time using the machine on a human.
Grubbs and parents who are doctors who happened to be in the stands worked on the teen until he was loaded up in an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.
Lerma says he is very thankful for each person who saved his life.
“I have no words to describe for how thankful I am for Mrs. Grubbs being there. I’m blessed that she was there and I’m blessed that she was there to help me out and how she took control of the situation,” he said.
Grubbs who had only recently returned from maternity leave is thankful for her training and that she was there.
“I’m grateful that he’s OK,” she said, becoming emotional. “I’m grateful that his mom gets to wake up and still have a kid. I’m grateful for the doctors and anybody that helped me because I couldn’t have done it by myself.”
And she is thankful for the AED.
Grubbs says she can recall three instances where an AED saved a student’s life in the Richardson school district.
Lerma’s family says he underwent surgery Tuesday afternoon where doctors placed a defibrillator in him.
The surgery went well.
Doctors are still doing tests on Lerma to try and determine what exactly caused him to collapse, according to his sister.
It might be a genetic issue.
HOW TO HELP: You can help cover medical cost for Lerma by clicking here.