BY DAVID DEMILLE • DDEMILLE | The Spectrum
Abby Doman, a cheerful, athletic girl who likes to play soccer, was in good spirits Monday as she prepared to be discharged from Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City. She is set to leave the hospital later this week but will need to live nearby until the right heart is available for a transplant.
The anxious wait could take some time, and doctors say Doman will need a new heart within a year.
"It's like a movie," Michelle Doman, Abby's mother, said from the hospital. "It's like a bad movie, but every once in a while you step back and say, 'Wait it's happening to us.'"
Abby was a seemingly healthy sixth-grade girl. She earns good grades and likes to play soccer. But in an instant, her life changed when she suddenly collapsed during running drills May 18 at Sunrise Ridge Intermediate School.
For eight long minutes, her teacher Cameron Murdock and others performed CPR. Paramedics arrived and needed to use two charges from a defibrillator to get her heart pumping again. She may not have had a pulse for 10 minutes, Michelle said.
"They saved her life," Michelle, who is a math teacher at the school, said of Murdock and other school staff who performed CPR. "She really shouldn't be alive right now, so we're lucky she's even here. It's a miracle."
Michelle was away from the school when the incident happened, taking her other daughter to have knee surgery, but she said the actions of her colleagues were the reason Abby made it to the hospital.
Abby was transported to Salt Lake City, where doctors diagnosed her with Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle thickens, making it more difficult for blood to leave the heart and forcing the organ to work harder to pump blood.
For many young, seemingly healthy athletes, the first symptom of the condition is a sudden collapse and possibly death caused by abnormal heart rhythms or the blockage of blood leaving the heart during heavy exercise.
"She was probably born with it, but we never knew," said Merideth Bruin, Abby's aunt. "We thought she was a perfectly healthy young girl."
A flood of support has poured in from family, friends and neighbors, from hand-drawn cards from schoolmates to fellow Sunrise Ridge teachers offering up some of their vacation time so Michelle can stay by her daughter's side.
Fellow students sang Abby a "happy birthday" song May 24 via a video call, and many have made the trip to visit her in Salt Lake City.
To help with the inevitable medical bills, a fun run fundraiser is slated for Friday at Little Valley Elementary School, with another scheduled for June 11 at Arrowhead Elementary School.
Murdock, who plays for the local semi-pro Dixie Rebels football team, said the Rebels would donate all of the revenue from their matchup June 11 with the Wasatch Revolution to the Domans.
Other future events may include a fun run and a horse race.
"It's incredible," Michelle said of the help from back home. "I cannot believe all the things I've heard."
A single mother with three children, Michelle said she likely would need all the help she can get, especially while living with Abby in Salt Lake City and trying to maintain a residence in St. George.
As her daughter battles for her life, Michelle said the goal is to focus on the present.
"I'm not looking past the summer," she said. "We're just trying to take it a day at a time."