MISSOULA – For Maxwell Meyer, it didn’t make much sense.
There he was, just 51/2 minutes into the final basketball game of his freshman season for the Frenchtown Broncs last Thursday, and he was sucking air.
“I knew something weird was going to happen,” Meyer said from his bed at St. Patrick Hospital on Monday, the eve of his 15th birthday.
What happened turned out to be a heart attack, more properly called a sudden cardiac death event. Max’s heart started racing so fast it couldn’t do its job pumping blood.
Fortunately, it happened at the feet of someone who’s been through it all before. David Meyer, Max’s coach and father, has had arrythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD) for more than half his life.
“I was diagnosed with bad rhythms way back at 19, and we’ve been keeping an eye on our kids. Up to this point, we haven’t had any indication that it was a problem,” said the elder Meyer, who has two younger daughters.
Frenchtown was playing host to Corvallis in the subvarsity game Thursday. Max recalled hitting a 3-point shot just before things got strange.
“Two possessions later, I just noticed my vision was kind of freaking out,” he said. “Not really blurry, but it started getting smaller. After, like, showing my dad I need to come out, I go back on defense and all I can see are people’s feet and the floor, and then I remember kind of sitting down. I woke up laying down on the bench.”
When Maxwell indicated he needed a rest, his father looked down the bench for a substitute.
“When I turned back around, Max was just sheet-white. He was standing right in front of me and he was sweating really hard,” David said.
Max started to stagger, and David was instantly on the court.
Father caught son before Max collapsed, and helped him to the bench.
Max was breathing, but had no pulse. David gave his son “four or five pumps on the chest,” he said. About 20 seconds later, Max’s pulse came back hard and strong.
“It was about as spooky as anything I’ve ever been around,” said Dan Moe, the Broncs’ varsity coach.
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