Updated 9/26: As of Monday evening, Isaac had been transported to Cook Children’s Hospital to undergo a heart procedure.
Isaac Dabila, a student and member of the band at Slaton High School, collapsed at a football game Friday. His mother, Krystal Chapa, said doctors told her this weekend that her son was born with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) which sends an extra electrical current through his heart and causes rapid heartbeat.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 4 out of every 100,000 people has WPW. Doctors told Chapa that her son was in a small percentage of children with WPW who show no signs ahead of time.
Chapa said that Friday was the first day Isaac, a 15-year-old freshman who played in the drum line, played at high school game with his uniform on.
“He loves band more than anything, his life is music,” Chapa explained.
Chapa worked at the concession stand during the football game, she saw her son during halftime and he seemed completely healthy.
“We got out there and did our half time show Friday night, [Isaac] got out there and he played his bass drum and marched and seemed fine,” said Trey Gossett, the band director at Slaton High. Trey has worked with Dabila in band for several years and speaks highly of him as a student.
Chapa was told her son was having a panic attack, so she rushed to his side. She said that it appeared initially that he might have been having a seizure, but she learned later that he had gone into cardiac arrest. She said her son lost consciousness and his heart was stopped for less than two minutes.
First responders and EMT’s in the stands immediately rushed in to help perform CPR on Dabila and to stablize him. Soon after, they sent him to Covenant Children’s Hospital where he was treated in the ER.
Chapa was surprised when doctors diagnosed her son with WPW. Outside of this incident, Isaac has been extremely healthy, the most serious illnesses he experienced were colds and mild asthma, Chapa said.
Mrs. Chapa explained that Isaac has been recovering well in the hospital. His breathing tube was removed on Sunday and he has been laughing at jokes.
“While he is laying in the intensive care unit, when he had a moment of consciousness or two he’s more concerned with doing things to make the nurses laugh, and he’s trying to [do a dance move] and wondering where his drumsticks are,” said band director Trey Gossett who has been to visit Dabila several times.
“He was on a ventilator for a few days, we came here Friday night, we didn’t expect to take the ventilator off until Monday, then [Saturday] he started breathing over the machine and that was very very good, and I really believe that’s from all the prayers and love and support coming from these families. I believe strongly in the power of prayer,” Chapa said.
Isaac has seen plenty of visitors during his stay at Covenant Children’s, including many members of the band. Sunday his hospital room and the surrounding hallway were packed with dozens of visitors.
Mrs. Chapa said she believes Isaac will be transferred to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth for another surgery soon.
“When we start telling [Isaac] how much love and support has been poured out from the community,
I’ve never been so thankful as I am today to be part of a small town,” she said.
This experience isn’t unfamiliar to the Slaton ISD community.
“We did have this happen about a year ago and I think a lot of our family will remember that,” said Julee Becker, Superintendent of Schools at Slaton ISD.
Nearly a year ago, football player Xavier Ramirez collapsed during a game due to a slightly different version of the same condition, Becker explained.
Becker said that she’s grateful that both events happened on the football field near trained medical professionals.
“I’m so thankful that we’ve had the outcomes we’ve had because it could have been a lot different except for the medical care that they were able to receive quickly,” she said.
Becker explained that there’s a group in Lubbock County, Operation Screen Your Athlete who works to test athletes and organizations for these types of abnormalities. She encourages everyone to look into their website and scheduling a testing appointment.
“They’re working in cycles to screen all of our kids, our band was the next group to screen, so I’m telling people don’t wait have them screened, you can prevent this,” Becker said.
If you would like to help out Dabila’s family during this time, a GoFundMe account is set up for them here.