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reese marlenee

Teen Survives Heart Attack and Urges Classmates to Learn CPR

Nearly nine months ago, first responders saved Reese Marlenee’s young life.

Last week, thankful to be alive, Marlenee welcomed rescuers to her high school to teach students the same lifesaving skills that saved hers.

“It’s important that everybody knows CPR, no matter how old they are,” said Marlenee, watching Valley Regional Fire Authority firefighters and paramedics teach teens the basics of cardiopulmonary resuscitation in 10-minute stations scattered over the gymnasium floor at Auburn Mountainview High School. “It’s important to learn how to do CPR, because I’m 16 and I had a heart attack. You can be 80 or you can be 1 (and) have a heart attack.”

The Nov. 27 heart-awareness event was Marlenee’s DECA class project, and her opportunity to give something back. The VRFA, as it does for communities throughout its jurisdiction, welcomed the invitation, and joined Marlenee to organize the program.

“For her to recover the way that she did and to have the ability and the maturity to put on an event like this speaks a lot about her character,” said VRFA Capt. Ryan Freed, who kept three morning sessions of work stations rotating on time. “It would be really hard for someone her age to be able to reflect back on something like that. It’s trauma, and to actually to put herself out there and be vulnerable for the betterment of fellow students says a lot about her.”

Marlenee has come a long way since March 5 when she collapsed poolside at water polo practice and went into cardiac arrest. Her coach, Jenni Pritchard, and the Auburn School District pool’s well-trained lifeguards quickly came to the fallen girl’s aid, called 911. and methodically performed two-person CPR until emergency personnel arrived within minutes to relieve them.

Medics rushed Marlenee to Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Hospital in 23 minutes.

Three days later, Marlenee underwent six hours of corrective surgery at Seattle Children’s hospital, where doctors discovered she had a heart defect, a condition called ALCAPA (anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery) syndrome. It is a rare, congenital coronary artery anomaly that may cause dangerously poor cardiac function.

“Without CPR, she most likely would not be with us today,” said her mother, Jessica.

This Sunday, with the help of medicine, and the strong support of family and friends, Marlenee celebrates her 17th birthday.

Read the full article here: https://www.auburn-reporter.com/news/without-missing-a-beat/