ELK RIVER, Minn. (KMSP) - A cross-country runner who nearly died after going into full cardiac arrest is not only alive, but back doing what he loves. On Tuesday, the American Heart Association and Spectrum High School honored Nevin Sagstetter’s incredible recovery.
For 16-year-old Nevin, there’s nothing that could keep him from lacing up, stretching out, and hitting the road, even on a 15-degree February afternoon -- “I like it cold, it’s a lot easier,” Nevin said.
Whether it’s racing on a track or jogging with classmates, Nevin is a runner. Sadly, it was a cross-country practice last fall when his life was nearly cut short.
“We did lose him, he was dead,” his parents said. “He died on that field. He was without a heartbeat for minutes.”
Nevin collapsed and his heart stopped about a mile from his school. “It’s a coach’s worst nightmare,” his coach Rick Peterson said.
Fortunately Peterson, a former EMT, was close by and took charge of the situation. “No coach ever wants to be in a situation where you are doing CPR on one of your athletes,” he said.
Nevin was rushed to an area hospital and then airlifted to the Twin Cities where he spent 72 hours in a medically-induced coma.
“Brain activity was minimal," his dad Tom Sagstetter said. "We weren’t sure at that point if he was ever going to walk, talk, breath, or get off the ventilator."
A lack of oxygen to the brain did some serious damage. And when Nevin eventually woke up, he needed help getting back on his feet and regaining his speech.
It would take two months to get him home from the hospital. But somehow, he returned to school in Elk River right after Thanksgiving and unbelievably, he also put his running shoes back on.
“He’s a miracle child,” mom April Sagstetter said. “If you google him, Nevin Sagstetter, he comes up as a miracle child. He really is.”
Doctors never determined what sent Nevin into full cardiac arrest that day. He now has a tiny pacemaker and defibrillator surgically implanted in his chest to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Next week, he'll find out if doctors will allow him to return to competitive racing in time for spring track.