MAYWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — A Chicago teenager collapsed while playing a basketball game this weekend, when he suffered an apparent heart attack on the court at Riverside Brookfield High School.
Jermaine Cullum, 16, was in the intensive care unit at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood on Monday. He was sedated, and still not breathing on his own, after he was brought to the hospital on Saturday.
Cullum, a sophomore at Christ the King Jesuit College Prep High School in Chicago, was playing in a basketball tournament Saturday at Riverside Brookfield High School, when he collapsed on the court after a layup.
“When he laid down, his heart stopped,” said his mother, Tarcia Payton.
A nurse and an emergency room doctor who were in the stands rushed to Cullum’s side and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Melody Burrell, the nurse who rushed to help Cullum, said he was having convulsions and had stopped breathing.
“It’s a blessing that myself and that gentleman was there to even help that young man,” she said.
Cullum’s mother said Burrell and the doctor who performed CPR played a crucial role in his survival.
“If she would not have been there to start CPR for my baby, my son would not be here today,” Payton said.
His family said they had no idea how something like this could happen to him, describing him as athletic, energetic, and always on the go. It turns out Cullum had an undiagnosed heart condition.
“I’m in shock, because I never knew anything was wrong with my baby
Cullum’s mother said he was unconscious for 16 minutes. She said it’s not yet clear if he’ll have lasting brain damage, but she expects a long road ahead.
“He’s a fighter. He is a fighter,” she said.
School officials say there was a defibrillator right outside the gym, but it doesn’t appear one was used until paramedics arrived minutes later.