Young actor suffers cardiac arrest on stage, now fights to help others

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A young actor performing a scene in the middle of a musical goes into cardiac arrest while on stage.

The 20-year-old actor, Jake Leet, was playing the fun-loving character, Donkey, during a performance of Shrek the Musical at the Theatre Lawrence when he went into cardiac arrest. Doctors are now saying it is a miracle he is still alive, and now his near-death experience is making a difference.

Leet who has been a regular on stage, said playing Donkey was one of his most physical roles to date.

“It required a lot of running around on the stage and a lot of hyperactivity,” said Leet.

Kyle Pellow, who was watching the musical when Leet went into cardiac arrest in front of a packed house, didn’t realize at first what had happened.

“He`s in this big thick costume. It was the second show of the day. So I figured he just passed out,” said Pellow.

Shortly after Pellow stormed the stage to help perform CPR

“There was no response. The paramedics got there. They worked on him for a little bit. Still no response. They put the AED on him which was good, they shocked him. Still no response. And then a minute later Jake came back,” said Pellow.

Leek who was rushed to a hospital, woke up two days later surrounded by family and friends.

“I`m very glad I don`t remember it because it was scary for everyone else and I can`t imagine how scary it would have been if I had actually remembered that,” said Leet.

Jake suffers from Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which is a heart condition that can lead to a rapid heart rate.

“It allowed my heart to get up to 300 beats per minute where at that moment it just kind of shut down,” Leet explained.

Leet said he has been using borrowed time to make a difference by raising awareness about the importance of defibrillators. He is also raising money to have one installed in the theatre and other public places.

“We think it should be readily accessible within a one minute radius,” said Leet.

Leet has raised more than $1,400 so far. The average defibrillator costs $2,000.

If you'd like to help, please contact Lawrence Memorial Hospital for information on how you can donate to the Jake Leet AED fund.

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