Young healthy Teen yet Cardiac Arrest still strikes Emily

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the United States with 326,200 individuals experiencing out of hospital cardiac arrest every year, and ninety percent of those individuals die. Thankfully, Emily Orta was of the ten percent who made it.

At the age of fourteen, Emily was an active athlete who participated in soccer, track and cheer. Her active, healthy lifestyle and her age seemed to make her invincible to such things as cardiac arrest, but during a practice drill, she collapsed. At first, her coach believed she had begun to have a seizure, but soon realized Emily’s heart had stopped.

Her parents were forty-five minutes away when they were called and told their daughter had collapsed and experienced cardiac arrest. The entire time, her mother couldn’t stop wondering how such a healthy, active kid could have this happen to them.

A lifeguard from the school began CPR on Emily, keeping her heart pumping and oxygen moving to her vital organs until a team of first responders were on the scene. They used an automated external defibrillator to shock Emily’s heart into beating again, but if it hadn’t been for CPR, Emily’s heart might have never responded to those shocks.

From there, Emily was admitted to a local hospital, where she was then flown to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with ALCAPA. ALCAPA stands for Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery, which means her left coronary artery was connected to her pulmonary artery rather than her aorta, causing blood to flow to the wrong places. This condition is usually caught during infancy, but Emily made it all the way to fourteen before she collapsed and her heart stopped.

While hearing about the elderly collapsing of cardiac arrest is quite common, it’s shocking to realize that cardiac arrest can happen to anyone from the moment they are born, no matter what their age. It’s important to be equipped with the knowledge of how to keep their bodies from quickly deteriorating without oxygen through using CPR.


Nadene Seiters