TODAY   |  September 14, 2010

Teen football star recounts brush with death

Hayward Demison III, 17, suffered a heart attack after scoring a touchdown for his team. Luckily, cardiac nurse Lisa Lyver was in the stands and rushed to the field to administer CPR. They speak with TODAY about the frightening ordeal.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

CARL QUINTANILLA, co-host: Back now at 8:10 with an unforgettable moment during a high school football game this past weekend. A young athlete suffered a heart attack after scoring a touchdown and was brought back to life by a cardiac nurse who just happened to be in the stands. In a moment , we will talk to them exclusively. But first, here's NBC 's George Lewis .

GEORGE LEWIS reporting: Hayward Demison and his family can joke about it now, his close brush with death and his amazing recovery.

Mr. HAYWARD DEMISON: I felt that God was on my side at the time.

LEWIS: Demison , a tailback, number 21, is one of the stars of Central Catholic High 's football team . Friday night he ran the ball 45 yards, scoring a key touchdown.

Mr. DEMISON: That was the best feeling of my life. It was the game winner.

LEWIS: But moments after the play, he sensed something was wrong, his heartbeat racing.

Mr. DEMISON: And I felt dizzy and nauseous, so then I took one step and then all of a sudden I collapsed.

LEWIS: His heart stopped for about two minutes. He had no pulse, no vital signs. But, fortunately for Demison , cardiac nurse Lisa Lyver was at the game, rushed from the stands and began administering CPR , bringing him back to life.

Ms. LISA LYVER: Luckily, he was very young, very fit. You could actually feel his heart start beating right under my hands.

Mr. STEVE PYNE (Central Catholic Head Coach): Just happy that he's with us still. Just very humbled by the whole thing.

LEWIS: He will have to undergo surgery for a defect in a coronary artery , but he hopes to return to playing football next year.

Mr. DEMISON: I love the game. It's my passion since I was a little boy , since my dad put a ball in my hands.

Dad: I thank God that he's here and I'm grateful.

LEWIS: And while Hayward doesn't like being on the sidelines right now, his family and his teammates are a great source of consolation. And the best gift of all, he will live to see future Friday nights. For TODAY, George Lewis , NBC News, Los Angeles .

QUINTANILLA: Hayward Demison III is with us now, along with his dad and life-saving nurse, Lisa Lyver . Good morning to all of you. It's great to have you with us. Hayward , I want you to take me back to that...

Mr. DEMISON: Good morning, sir.

Dad: Good morning.

Ms. LYVER: Good morning.

QUINTANILLA: ...that play because the game is neck-and-neck, you're a tailback, you get the ball, you run it down 45 yards for that touchdown. What was that moment like?

Mr. DEMISON: It was a very hard moment because there was a lot of adversity and stuff, and my heart started racing and I was sort of in a panic mode. My teammates congratulated me and stuff. And at that moment , I even panicked more because my heart started beating, and then once I got to the sideline, I sat on the bench and then it sped up even more because I sat down and I had on tight gear. And then I told one of my teammates to get the inhaler and stuff, and he got the coach and then the coach came to me and then he was asking me what's wrong and then I told him that I need my inhaler and then he gave it to me, I took one puff of it, I breathed and then it also increased my heart even more because it was a steroid type inhaler.


Mr. DEMISON: And I wanted my upper body pad taken off, so they had to loosen the -- loosen the straps, but they couldn't, so they had to pull me straight out of it. And then right when I stood up after they took it of, I felt even dizzy and nauseous...

QUINTANILLA: You knew you were in trouble...

Mr. DEMISON: ... and I couldn't see anything.

QUINTANILLA: that point. Lisa , you're in the stands...

Mr. DEMISON: Yes, sir, I...

QUINTANILLA: this point, and what a good thing it was that you were. How did you know what was going on and how did you jump into action?

Ms. LYVER: I was actually sitting next to the head coach 's wife and she said, ' Lisa , somebody just collapsed,' and I kind of watched for a little bit, saw enough commotion down there and, you know, being a nurse for 16 years I thought I should at least go down and see if there's something that I can help with.

QUINTANILLA: Right. You gave him chest compressions for about two minutes. And you even doubted yourself. At one point, you thought to yourself, 'I hope this is what we're supposed to be doing because if it's not, he's going to be really mad later,' right?

Ms. LYVER: Well, you know, I looked in his eyes, didn't see any kind of response at all. Everybody was yelling at him. Didn't look like he was breathing. And a couple of people down there tried to feel for a pulse, and we didn't feel one. And at that point, I thought, 'Well, we can start chest compressions, and if he does, you know, if that's -- if this isn't what needs to be done, he's going to wake up and be pretty mad at me.'


Ms. LYVER: So when he didn't, that's what we just kept doing.

QUINTANILLA: Mr. Demison , this must have been a tough experience for you, too. When you went to the hospital to see your son, what's the first thing he said to you?

Dad: The first thing he said to me was, 'Dad, I missed " Friday Night Lights ."' So he was in pretty good spirits.

QUINTANILLA: Which is the highlight show -- the local highlights show on Friday nights, right?

Dad: Yes, it is. Yes, sir. And it made me feel a little bit that he was -- still had his spirits up through what we had went through. It was just an -- I was just so thankful that my son was alive and...

QUINTANILLA: Hayward , you...

Dad: ...I -- yes.

QUINTANILLA: turns out you do have a defective coronary artery , which you're going to have surgery to repair. What do doctors tell you, and how anxious are you someday to get back on the field?

Mr. DEMISON: They told me that my left coronary will be fixed. And it's in the wrong spot at the moment , but it will be put in -- rightfully -- back in its right spot. So I'm very thankful for that. I'm kind of nervous to go into surgery, but I know that God 's with me, and so he'll put his hands through the whole thing, so I will live through that. But I'm so anxious to get back into football. It's my favorite thing to do, no matter what. So yes, sir, I'm very thankful for that. As long as I get to see another year, so I'm thankful for that every moment , sir.

QUINTANILLA: It's nice when the stars align as they did in this case, and the fact that Lisa was there is just incredible. Hayward Demison III , Mr. Demison , Lisa , thank you all. Thank you for being with us.