Jordan Tribbet was excited to start his first year of higher education as a freshman at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he planned to study project management and serve as a guard on the school’s basketball team.
The graduate of Lanphier High School in Springfield was dropped off in his new apartment by his parents on Aug. 19. But just five days later, his course was changed.
Jordan, 18, was playing basketball at an open gym when he collapsed near the center court line, after sudden cardiac arrest. He and his family are convinced there were angels all around him that day, starting with student athlete Cassandra Ellison, who is also a nurse tech at OSF St. Mary Medical Center. Ellison remained calm and performed CPR while assistant coach Seth Wickert called 911.
“It felt like the longest five minutes of my life,” Cassandra said of the 3 to 5 minutes that went by until first responders with Galesburg Hospital Ambulance Service arrived and took Jordan by ambulance to OSF St. Mary Medical Center. Once there, Jordan was surrounded by an interdisciplinary team in the St. Mary Emergency Room.
“Our emergency staff is trained specifically to handle these types of life or death situations,” said Lisa Sopher, ER director at OSF St. Mary Medical Center. “The entire team did an outstanding job keeping Jordan stable and comfortable, all while mobilizing the flight crew and transitioning care to the cardiac specialist in Peoria. The quick response time and treatment by GHAS paramedics also contributed to the excellent outcome.”
Dr. Charles determined that Jordan was a candidate for a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator system (S-ICD), and he was the first patient at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center to receive one.
The device is implanted just under the skin – with no wires touching the heart – so it eliminates potential serious short- and long-term risks associated with placing electrical wires inside the heart or blood vessels. Before this new technology was developed, all such devices required wires to be threaded through veins near the heart.
The defibrillator was implanted in Jordan’s left side near his ribs, and wires travel up his breast cavity to the front of his chest. The system monitors the heart rhythm 24 hours a day and is designed to deliver a lifesaving electric shock to the heart when it senses an abnormal heart rhythm.
Jordan, who has played basketball on competitive teams since kindergarten, returned to classes at Carl Sandburg two weeks after the surgery. He also attends basketball practices to support his team, though he’s not yet cleared for play. He’s hopeful that the S-ICD system will allow him to resume his active lifestyle in time.
“I feel blessed,” Jordan said recently of the quick actions of all who helped him during the emergency and on his road to recovery. “And right now, I’m content to just get stronger and focus on school.”