Two years later, former RNE quarterback relives heart attack story on World Heart Day

Updated: Sep. 29, 2020 at 7:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It has been almost two years since a Richland Northeast quarterback collapsed playing a game of pickup basketball.

Josh Boyd was just 17 years old when he went into cardiac arrest at Sonny Sportsplex in Columbia.

His life, and his promising football career, changed forever that day.

Boyd was poised for the next phase of his football career when his life took a different kind of spiral.

“My heart stopped beating three times,” Boyd said. “They thought I was dead for sure... didn’t think they could do anything about it.”

He said it was divine luck that a group of local firefighters decided to try playing at the gym that day. They were there when he collapsed, administering immediate medical care and CPR.

Boyd went from Prisma Health Richland for emergency treatment to MUSC for surgery.

A doctor diagnosed him with cardiomegaly – or enlargement of the heart – likely due to a congenital heart defect. Doctors immediately operated and placed a defibrillator in his chest.

Boyd told WIS he doesn’t remember anything about those couple of days, and when he woke up his mother was there. He said it was her faith that pulled him through.

“She was praising God and it wasn’t working,” Boyd said. “But she did it one more time and then my heart started beating. That was a miracle.”

It was a miracle to be alive, Boyd knows, but he was still suffering a great loss. He was sidelined – unable to play without compromising his heart health.

When some may have quit, Boyd found a second wind.

“After sports, I thought I was done,” he said. “I didn’t know what else to do. [Now] I speak to kids. I speak to grownups too. There’s more to life. When life throws you a curveball, knock it out the park.”

A study in the journal, “Circulation,” in 2015 estimates about 326,000 Americans suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year. Now, the American Heart Association reports that 70% of cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital. Just 10% to 65% receive bystander CPR, which can double a patient’s rate of survival.

Now, Boyd player-coaches at Coastal Carolina — where he is a freshman. He tells his story to urge others to know what to do if you find yourself in bystander shoes.

“It was scary what happened to me,” Boyd said. “Most people don’t make it what happened to me. I pray for more life. I pray about moving throughout the day and moving throughout the world. I thank God every day for giving me another breath to live.”

Tuesday, Sept. 29 marks World Heart Day.

According to The American Heart Association, the best way to mark the day is to commit yourself to promoting heart health by learning CPR, getting a flu shot to protect yourself and others with underlying health conditions, and donate to fund research and CPR training for first responders.

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