INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Just five percent. That's the chance of survival when a child suffers sudden cardiac arrest away from a hospital. The heart just stops beating. Yet an Independence boy is alive and back to school less than a month after he suffered cardiac arrest there.
Javan Cruz walked into Pioneer Ridge Middle School, and that brought joy to those who know that April 7th could have been the 7th grader's last day there. It could have been his last day alive.
"He's a walking, breathing miracle," said Deedee Arps, school nurse.
That morning, Javan was headed into Amy Mack's classroom for reading.
"I heard him saying, 'No, no, no' as he walked in. And then he just face planted, face forward, and hit his head on a desk," said Mack.
Arps and school resource officer Michelle Acevedo got there quickly, thinking Javan might have had a seizure.
"And we got him over to his back. He was breathing for just two or three seconds, and then everything stopped," said Arps.
The officer radioed for an ambulance while the nurse started CPR. Javan's mom got the call that her son was unresponsive.
"And so my heart was pounding and I was just calling out to God 'cause I didn't know what to do," said Jasya Camacho.
Teacher Corey Lathrom said he'd never run faster. He ran down the hall and into the cafeteria to grab the defibrillator.
"I think the highlight of some of the kids' year was watching me trip and fall as I ran for the cafeteria but we got the AED for him and got him the help he needed" said Lathrom.
The nurse shocked Javan twice with the AED. There was still no heartbeat. The paramedics arrived and did restore a beat, but Javan's heart stopped again and again.
"He did survive seven cardiac arrests altogether," said his mother.
It was touch and go in the ICU of Children's Mercy Hospital. People told the school nurse that she did all she could. They told her she could do no more.
"And I'm like oh, yes, I can. I can pray and so I prayed. I mean, I prayed hard every day for him," said Arps.
Six long days later, Javan awakened. His mother was amazed by his first words.
"He said that 'I feel so blessed,'" recalled Camacho.
He also had a few words for the lifesavers who gathered Thursday.
"I would just like to thank them for saving my life," said Javan.
No other words needed. Javan's back in school part-time as he regains strength. Why his heart stopped is still unclear, but he now has a defibrillator implanted in his chest in case it would happen again.
The school nurse says the Independence School District deserves credit for having a nurse and an AED in every school.