Ella is an extremely blessed person. Not only was she gifted with a beautiful voice and songwriting talents, but she also survived a cardiac arrest at the age of 14. As she was entering a basketball game during a tournament, she dropped to the ground and went into cardiac arrest for seven minutes. An automated external defibrillator (AED) that was on site at the gym was crucial in saving her life.
“I completely blacked out, and after someone performed CPR and used the defibrillator on me, I was rushed to the hospital. I stayed there for a week while doctors ran every single test they could to figure out what went wrong,” says Ella. Doctors concluded that “an electrical short circuit” happened in her heart, but never found the reason why it happened to this healthy teenager.
While doctors hoped nothing like this would happen again, they decided it would be best for Ella to receive an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) in case it did. “I was told that when something like this happens to a person, they’re usually don’t come back as the same person or live through it,” says Ella. “Because of that, I’m happy I have this defibrillator implanted in my chest as a precaution.”
Even though she has this piece of equipment monitoring her heart at all times, it hasn’t stopped Ella from living the life she wants. She works out daily, goes to venues to play her music, and lives a normal life as a student at the University of Southern California. “I can’t go through metal detectors or be around magnets, but other than little things like that, I don’t let my ICD set me back from experiencing life. I only have one chance at life, and I want to spend it on writing and singing my music.” This experience also didn’t stop Ella from playing basketball a couple of years after the incident, and she even created a pad to wear over her chest so nothing would obstruct her ICD.
Dr. Fischbach was Ella’s Sibley Heart Center cardiologist, and she still has a close relationship with him today. “Although I was very nervous at the time of the incident, the whole Sibley staff was so nice and made me feel at ease as much as possible. They make you feel like you’re a part of a family. I remember one specialist came to see me after my surgery and told me how proud she was of me for being brave. She related to me on a person-to-person level, not a patient-to-doctor level,” says Ella.
Today, Ella continues to attend and perform at American Heart Association events, including Heart Balls and Go Red events, and wants to tell her story to the world. “The fact that God put me in this position should not be something I take for granted,” she says. “Awareness needs to be raised with the younger generation for cardiac arrest, keeping your heart healthy, and how to use an AED. Through performing my music, I hope to use this as a platform to bring more attention to these important topics.”
It’s safe to say that Ella has become the incredible person she is today because of that day she went into cardiac arrest and choosing to make the best of it. “This experience has pushed me to be the musician I want to be. I’m the kind of person that wants to embrace this and not make a big deal out of it. I used to be scared of what could happen to me, but now it’s just become a part of who I am.” You can check out Ella’s music and follow her journey as an artist on her website.
To other patients who have a heart condition or go through a similar situation as Ella, she has this message:
Don’t be scared. You’re stronger than you think you are. Take it day by day and trust the people and professionals who are on your side. Ask questions. Don’t let it limit you; don’t take this as a crutch. Live the life you want and live it well.”
For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.