11-year old Georgia boy saved from cardiac arrest

Image 1 of 2

Inside Creekland Middle School's gym, powerful memories,

"It's eerie in here because this is where it happened," Kerianne Cherry says.

She's talking about her son, Caden Cherry, and that day back in September of 2016 he nearly died here.

"It's a miracle. He's a miracle child," Caden's PE teachers Keith Fountain and Stacy Rich echo.

Caden was 11 back then, in gym class with his twin brother Cooper.

"I was hanging over there by the green line," Caden Cherry explains. "I was talking to my friend and he bent down to tie his shoe, and then that's it."

"All of a sudden I heard a thump on the floor," Fountain says.

Caden had collapsed, his heart had suddenly stopped.

"I thought he was having a seizure, and I went down, and he started turning blue, drawing up," Keith Fountain remembers.

Cooper told the teachers Caden had a heart condition, known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

But no one, not even the doctors, expected this.

"He had a stress test the week before he went into sudden cardiac arrest," Caden's mother says. "He passed the stress test, with no issues."

The teachers radioed for help and began CPR.

A nurse, who is no longer at the school, grabbed an AED that was right outside the gym.

"They got it on him," Kerianne Cherry says. " It shocked him 5 times."

For 8-10 minutes, Caden had no heartbeat, no sign of life.

"It was just the worst feeling, I can't even describe it," Stacy Rich says.

When Caden's father Steve Cherry rushed into the gym, it was hard to believe what he was seeing.

"I was just shocked," Cherry says. "Because he was lifeless, lying on the floor."

But, the teachers and nurse kept trying to bring Caden back.

"Basically we were praying," Keith Fountain says.  "And the machine and the AED did not stop the voice prompts, telling the nurse what to do."

Finally, paramedics got a faint pulse just as they were loading Caden onto an ambulance.

He awoke in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's intensive care unit.

"The AED is the reason he's here," his mother says.  "If there was no AED, there would be no Caden."

At Children's Healthcare, doctors implanted a defibrillator that has twice shocked Caden's heart back into a normal rhythm.

His family has joined Project S.A.V.E., a Children's program pushing to get more AEDs in Cherokee County schools, and training staff and students to perform CPR.

"I feel this path was chosen for us," Kerianne Cherry says. "I don't know why.  And we're going to continue to do what we can do. And if we save one life like Cayden's life was saved, then my job is done."

Caden Cherry was selected at the Children's Miracle Networks "champion" for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Because everyone involved in his story knows he's as close any anyone comes to a walking miracle.