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updated: 3/24/2013 7:33 PM

Basketball players use defibrillator to save Genoa man's life

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  • Quick thinking on the basketball court saved Matt Krueger's life when he went into cardiac arrest March 2 in St. Charles. Krueger, 36, of Genoa, is pictured with his wife, Marina, and their children Sydney, 9, John, 7, Cole, 4, and Caleb, 2.

      Quick thinking on the basketball court saved Matt Krueger's life when he went into cardiac arrest March 2 in St. Charles. Krueger, 36, of Genoa, is pictured with his wife, Marina, and their children Sydney, 9, John, 7, Cole, 4, and Caleb, 2.
    COURTESY of MATT KRUEGER

 
 

Matt Krueger looks forward to hugging his basketball buddies who helped save his life earlier this month.

"I physically died on March 2," said Krueger, a Genoa resident. "I am happy to be here."

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On March 2, Krueger was sitting out a game during a morning of pickup basketball in the gym of Christ Community Church in St. Charles, when he suddenly felt faint and collapsed in cardiac arrest.

The next thing he knew, he woke up on the paramedics' stretcher -- but only after a group of quick-thinking players used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to restore his heart's normal rhythm.

Although AEDs are commonly found in schools and gyms, most people don't have a clue about how to use them, Krueger said. "I wouldn't know the first thing about CPR, and I probably would be too afraid to use them," he said.

But it just so happened that one of his fellow players, Tim Sjostrom of St. Charles, had watched a video on AEDs sent to him by a co-worker in December.

Sjostrom also knew Krueger's medical history, which includes a heart stent operation to open up blocked arteries caused by genetically high cholesterol.

"I don't feel like I did anything that anybody else wouldn't have done if anybody else had been there," Sjostrom said. "I truly chalk it up to how God orchestrated the whole thing."

Sjostrom raced to get the AED, then another player, Ron Newman, took over and administered its electric shock to Krueger.

Illinois State Trooper Demetrio Torres, who had just left the gym but came back when he heard the commotion, played a crucial role in what could have been a chaotic scene, Sjostrom added.

"I remember (Torres) being the calm in the middle of the storm. I remember him orchestrating things," he said.

Krueger ended up spending almost two week at Sherman Hospital, where he had triple bypass surgery March 8. He is now convalescing at home.

Krueger said he feels incredibly fortunate.

"They're all good, Christian guys who weren't afraid to jump into the action. There are other gyms I go to where everybody would have just ran out of the room," he said.

He wants to go back to the basketball gym at the St. Charles church as soon as he's able, possibly as early as next Saturday, he said.

"My plan is to go give all those guys a hug, and tell them how much they mean to my family and to me," Krueger said.

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