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Waiting for a heart

CPR in school gym saved 12-year-old Lakeview student, mom says

Submitted photo Lakeview sixth-grader Landyn Berends and his mother Jenni Berends, along with father Dustin Berends, are adjusting to life after Landyn’s recent diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. The couple have three younger boys in addition to Landyn, who is set to be placed on a heart transplant list.

WOOD LAKE — Friday, Nov. 15, started out as a normal day for the Berends family of Wood Lake. Landyn Berends, 12, helped his mother, Jenni Berends, get his 2-year-old twin brothers ready for the day before getting on the school bus to Lakeview School.

“He said ‘have a good day,'” and then was off to school, Jenni Berends said.

An hour later she received a call that no parent wants to get — Landyn, a sixth-grader, had collapsed at school.

“He was playing basketball with a friend in the gym before classes started in the morning,” said Berends.

Either the people tending to Landyn couldn’t feel a pulse in the excitement or he didn’t have one, but they started doing compressions on his heart right away. The Cottonwood ambulance service was called and sped Landyn to the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center Emergency Room.

“He got a CT scan and an X-ray, which showed that his heart was enlarged,” she said. “He was rushed by ambulance to Sanford Children’s in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he had an echocardiogram and was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.”

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart muscle (myocardium) becomes abnormally thick (hypertrophied), according to mayoclinic.org. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood. It is rare, but some people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can have sudden cardiac arrest during vigorous physical activity.

After being tested at Sanford, he was then flown to the University of Minnesota hospital.

That’s three hospitals in one day for Landyn and his mother and father, Dustin Berends.

Landyn showed no signs of heart trouble prior to Nov. 15.

“He was a healthy 12-year-old with no issues at all,” she said.

The doctor told her that the condition shows up in teenagers as they get more active in sports.

“A lot of times they die on the football field,” Berends said. “A lot of times you don’t get a second chance with this disease, but fortunately people were there at the right time and performed CPR and saved his life.”

Desiree Caron performed CPR, Berends said. Caron is the secretary for the elementary school and is an emergency medical technician for the Cottonwood ambulance.

“Rich Sorbo, Janelle Sailer and the school nurse, Jennifer Johnson, also helped that day,” she said. Sorbo and Sailer are paraprofessionals at Lakeview.

At the U of M, Landyn underwent more echos, an MRI and heart catherization. On Nov. 21, a cardioverter-defibrillator was implanted under Landyn’s armpit — it’s about the size of a pack of gum, Berends said, with a wire leading to the heart.

“If he does have that issue again (cardiac arrest), it’s going to send a shock and put his heart back into rhythm,” she said.

Landyn will be tested today at the U of M to be placed on the transplant list. Once you are on the heart transplant list, a suitable heart may come along within a few days or it may take many months or even years.

Until then, Landyn will have his defibrillator implant and will have to limit physical activity.

“He is very restricted in what he can do now,” Berends said. “He can’t participate in any sports or recess in gym until he gets his heart transplant. He understands, but sometimes he says ‘I wish I could do what my friends are doing.'”

Berends is glad her son is getting treatment at the U of M.

“When I was there I felt a little less scared,” she said.

The Berendses have three other children in addition to Landyn — a 6-year-old boy and 2-year-old twin boys. Fortunately there is family who live nearby in Wood Lake to help with the kids.

“My husband’s family lives in Maynard and my family lives in Wood Lake so they are helping to keep the boys in their routine,” she said.

During and after the heart transplant the Berendses will have to be up in the Twin Cities for “quite a while,” she said, so they will be relying on family even more to help with the younger children.

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