Slaton HS students hope to prevent cardiac arrests

Published: Oct. 4, 2016 at 2:32 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2016 at 12:05 PM CDT
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Ramirez (Source: Ramirez)
Ramirez (Source: Ramirez)
Dabila (Source: Chapa)
Dabila (Source: Chapa)
Prayer gathering for Dabila (Source: Ramirez)
Prayer gathering for Dabila (Source: Ramirez)
Dabila (Source: Chapa)
Dabila (Source: Chapa)

SLATON, TX (KCBD) - In the past two years, it has happened two different times.

Two students at Slaton High School have both suffered cardiac arrest, each during a home football game, and both have survived.

Xavier Ramirez is a junior, and Isaac Dabila is a freshman. They did not officially meet each other until Sunday, after Dabila finally made it home from the heart surgery he had after his attack on September 24.

Dabila knew of Ramirez when he supported him after his collapse on the field last October.

"I basically didn't know him," Dabila said, "but that didn't mean I wasn't going to pray for him."

Ramirez had to be rushed to heart surgery.

"God, I hope you help this guy out," Dabila remembers praying.

Three weeks later, Ramirez returned home to Slaton to heal.

"I thought it was really good that he was back walking around," Dabila said, "and still doing what he's doing."

Little did Dabila know, almost a year later, they would reverse those roles.

"I really don't remember much," Dabila said.

During Slaton's homecoming two weeks ago, as Dabila played bass drum for their band, he collapsed in the bleachers.

"A friend of mine caught me, luckily before I hit my head or got any other injuries in the process," he said, "and he just told me that I had thrown up."

Ramirez saw the ambulance from the field.

"It was scary just thinking about it and seeing those lights and everyone praying at the same time," he said. "Just brought back a lot of memories."

It was not until the next day that Ramirez realized Dabila also experienced cardiac arrest.

"I knew if I just pray like how everybody prayed for me, there would be an awesome outcome," Ramirez said.

Dabila's mom, Krystal Chapa, credits community-wide faith rallies to her son's successful heart surgery.

"They were able to take off the breathing tubes, and the first thing he said with his raspy voice was 'I'm Batman'," she said. "When I heard that, I knew his sense of humor was definitely not hurt and he was going to be okay."

Once Dabila came back to Slaton last Thursday, he was full of thanks for the support he received while he fought for his life.

"To know that prayers work a lot is something that should be noted," he said.

A couple of days after his return, he joined Xavier's team with an organization called Operation Screen Your Athlete.

"I think more athletes need to be screened by Operation Screen your Athlete so we can find this," Ramirez said, "and so that their parents don't have to go through what our parents did."

Operation Screen Your Athlete formed after Ramirez's cardiac arrest by nurses who help check teenagers for heart problems.

Both Ramirez and Dabila had heart defects that they had no previous knowledge of before their cardiac arrests.

"If there is something abnormal, we're going to find it then and there and refer them accordingly," said cofounder Aaron Cristan.

While they usually host three free clinics a year, after Isaac's cardiac arrest, they decided to host a private one for Slaton this Sunday.

"As a parent, I would be scared…and so we're glad to be offer it," said cofounder Ginger Yaeger. "We're expecting about 200 kids from Slaton, and so if we can give them that peace of mind, then we consider our job done."

This is a cause Dabila and Ramirez have become the face for, as they hope to save lives through raising awareness of these screenings.

"It shouldn't have to happen to anyone else," Dabila said. "And mainly, I would rather know now than then find out whenever it happens."

Operation Screen Your Athlete's next free public screening is November 12. They recommend teenagers ages 12-18 sign up.

The location of this screening and registration details will be posted to the organization's Facebook page:

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