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USU basketball player recounts experience of heart failure, tells of AED importance

By Dave McCann | Posted - Feb 4th, 2014 @ 8:40am


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LOGAN — One year ago, Utah State basketball player Danny Berger collapsed on the court from heart failure, and now he tells his story to promote heart health.

Berger's heart stopped beating during a basketball practice and had to be jump-started by a defibrillator. He said everything went black and when he woke up, he was in the hospital. He discovered that his team trainer, Mike Williams, had saved his life with an AED — an automatic defibrillator.

"It's a miracle of God is the only thing that's going through my mind, really," Berger said of his survival. "It shocked me. And it only needed one shock and then my heart started beating again."

Specialists did a lot of tests on Berger's heart to discover why it had suddenly stopped beating.

"There were a couple things that were low, like my potassium was low and stuff like that, but they don't really know 100 percent what the cause was," Berger said. "I thought I was healthy and I was. It was just kind of a freak accident."

Berger had a defibrillator installed in his chest in case his heart ever goes into cardiac arrest and he needs another jolt. However, for everyone else, he said it's easy to be prepared for a heart attack. He said AEDs are easy to use.

"Once you open it up, 'Stay calm' — it starts talking (and tells you to call 911)," Berger said. "So it takes you through what you need to do and once the pads are on, it monitors your heart and everything that's going on and it will analyze the situation."

Berger said the most important thing is to make sure an AED is available in most public places.

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"A thousand dollars is nothing compared to a life, I think," he said. "(And) every so often they need batteries changed, pads changed."

Berger said the experience taught him to understand the value of life and the importance of his relationships with family, friends and being kind to strangers.

"Because you know, one second it could end," he said. "One day it could end. This could be your last game so play it like it's your last and you know, you never know what could happen."

Outside of his basketball schedule, Berger promotes the use of AEDs and even helped raise money for a defibrillator for the Boys and Girls Club back in his home state of Oregon.

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