Young mom suffers heart attack while on family vacation - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Young mom suffers heart attack while on family vacation

Doctors implanted a defibrillator to help monitor the 29-year-old's heart rhythm. (Source: WAFF) Doctors implanted a defibrillator to help monitor the 29-year-old's heart rhythm. (Source: WAFF)
(WAFF) -

The recent holidays are something Deanna Stutts can't remember, but her family will never forget. 

Her sketchy memory stops at Thanksgiving. But Dec. 31, her dad was driving a van with her mom, her husband Justin, and five kids back from a Christmas trip through Indiana. 

Deanna was on the phone trying to find a motel. Her dad, Andy Stejskal, picks up the story. 

"Deanna actually fell over in the seat. She was fine, and she just fell over on the seat," Andy recalled. "Justin grabbed her up and started CPR. Wanda started praying over her... [Deanna] wasn't breathing." 

After a 911 call, they pulled over, with her husband still performing CPR. Andy says they caught a break. 

"In a matter of minutes, a lone EMT just came out of nowhere, and took over. And then I would say within 30 to 45 seconds an ambulance showed up," Andy said. 

After a trip to a small hospital, doctors stabilized Deanna, and she was airlifted to a larger facility, where doctors tried to piece everything together for this 29-year-old, otherwise healthy lady. 

What caused the cardiac arrest is still a mystery, according to Deanna. 

"It may have been a heart murmur, an arrhythmia; they didn't really know what caused it," she said. "Could have been energy drinks or I was on Adderall for ADHD. And they took me off that and lowered my caffeine, and now I'm on all kinds of medicines." 

Doctors implanted a defibrillator to help monitor her heart rhythm and shock it if necessary. 

One of the hardest things for Deanna was being away from her children. She was hospitalized from Dec. 31 to Jan. 21. She said her children and others provided a great welcome home event for her. 

"As I was on my way home from Indiana, they had of course come in here and cleaned everything," she said. "They were all here when I got here and I had some flowers." 

Andy says the ordeal was horrible. "It's really, really scary. It's almost a horror story, is what it boils down to. Even the doctors and nurses told her that they didn't have any idea she would be living." 

But Deanna beat the odds and plans to make every day count.

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