Best Of 2019-20, Number 3: Brayden Weber: ‘A Good Indication That I Was Dead’
Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2020 - 12:00 PM
Here's story No. 3 on my list of favorites from the 2019-20 school year. It was originally published on March 11.
Brayden Weber was right where he wanted to be Wednesday afternoon, in the midst of a large, enthusiastic crowd of Becker High School students missing class while cheering for the Bulldogs in the Class 3A girls basketball state quarterfinals at Maturi Pavilion.
Becker came away with a 63-55 win over Alexandria and will meet Waconia at Williams Arena in Thursday's televised semifinals. It's been a good week in Becker.
But go back 11 days and everyone in Becker feared the worst. Brayden was wrestling in the semifinals of the state tournament at Xcel Energy Center when the unthinkable happened. He collapsed, medical personnel could not find a pulse and performed CPR on the 220-pound junior.
Seeing Brayden having the time of his life Wednesday was an amazing turnaround. He feels fine, he knows he was lucky and he's walking around wearing one heck of a nice smile.
Doctors have diagnosed ventricular tachycardia, a heart rhythm disorder caused by abnormal electrical signals. He's taking medication and genetic tests are in the works as doctors try to narrow down treatment options. Brayden said surgery is a last resort.
"I feel totally normal, like it never really happened," he said after the basketball game. "But, yeah, it did. It definitely happened."
While wrestling Orono senior Danny Striggow, he didn't feel right.
"I was so far gone, I couldn't even stand up right so I just kind of laid there and let him pin me. Then I closed my eyes and that's the last thing I remember.”
He has no memory of shaking hands with Striggow or taking a few steps away from the center of the mat or going down hard. There were no warning signs, no previous indications of any problem. All he knew was that he passed out and then came back to life. It was a Miracle on the Mat.
“I woke up and I thought I heard my alarm clock but it was the AED beeping,” he said (the AED was activated but not used). “I was trying to open my eyes and I couldn't open them. And that's when I was coming to. Then all of a sudden I open my eyes and there’s like 55 people around me.”
For fans in attendance, the best signal came when Brayden raised one arm, giving the thumbs-up sign, as he rode out of the arena on a stretcher.
“I just wanted to make sure everyone knew that I was alive, because I wasn't really moving,” he said. “I was strapped down and I had a towel over my face. They couldn’t see if I was talking or anything like that, so I just gave them a thumbs up.”
The doctor who performed CPR was Mark Berg of M Health Fairview, assisted by athletic trainers Jenna Arnold and Karin Shelstad from the Institute for Athletic Medicine. Doctors and athletic trainers are on hand at all MSHSL state tournaments, for which Brayden is very thankful.
“What if I'm home alone or whatever, somewhere by myself? That goes through your mind,” he said. “Because if it happened at practice, I would have been screwed because we don't have a trainer that's so close; she’s in another building.”
Brayden went back to Becker after a couple days in the hospital. He stayed home from school for a week; when he returned this past Monday there were more hugs than you could count.
He will sit out the spring track and field season but has high hopes to being on the football field for the Bulldogs this fall. He’s a talented linebacker who has Division I college aspirations.
“Honestly, it still hasn't really set in,” he said. “They don’t know if my heart actually stopped; they just couldn’t find a pulse. They said with an irregular rhythm it could just be hard to detect a pulse. But they said I wasn't breathing on my own for five minutes, which is like a good indication that I was dead.”
And here he was, with his buddies, cheering for the Bulldogs. Laughing, smiling, enjoying life.
What a lucky dude.
--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio