HAVERHILL, Mass. — A Haverhill teen who collapsed on the basketball court is thanking the Good Samaritans who saved his life. Julio Delgado, 17, was playing in a basketball tournament at Mass Premier Courts in Foxborough Saturday when he fell to the floor. He had a seizure, and then his heart stopped.
“The only thing I remember, I was in the middle of the game, and I was going for a layup,” Julio told Boston 25 News by Zoom from his bed at Boston Children’s Hospital Tuesday. “And so, as I was running back on defense, I guess I just collapsed.”
His mother, Doralisa Torres, received a frantic call from Julio’s 15-year-old brother, who plays basketball with Julio.
“It was the worst call a parent can ever get,” Torres said. “His brother called me hysterical that basically his older brother was dying and they were working on him on the floor.”
Julio’s teammate’s father, who happens to be Haverhill’s Deputy Fire Chief Eric Tarpy, rushed to Julio’s side. Ashley Kepaa, operations director at the facility and trained to perform CPR, also ran to help Julio along with Tracy Fuller, mother of another teammate.
Together, they all stabilized Julio, performed CPR and yelled for someone to grab the automated external defibrillator (AED) mounted on the wall.
“We were able to get the defibrillator on him. We shocked him. We continued CPR, and all of a sudden Julio came conscious, and we were able to talk to him,” said Tarpy, who has known Julio for years and coached him in the past. “I think the happiest part was when he opened his eyes and said, ‘Yeah, you’re Kyle’s dad.’”
“He gasped for air, and it was like witnessing a miracle,” Kepaa said. “He wanted to go back and play basketball.”
Julio was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent multiple scans and tests. He told Boston 25 News he may need surgery to repair an artery and he will soon have a defibrillator implanted in his chest. Despite what he has endured and what is to come, Julio feels blessed and grateful for the heroes who saved his life.
“I just want to thank them so much because, without them, I probably would’ve been dead right now,” Julio said.
“I have no words,” Torres added. “I appreciate them. I love them. I think these are my new brothers and sisters. They saved my son’s life.”
Julio’s stepmother, Yolanda Delgado, told Boston 25 News she and her husband are so grateful for their actions that she attended the next basketball game the following day to thank and hug their family’s heroes.
Tarpy told Boston 25 News the response was a team effort and it reinforces the importance of early CPR and having life-saving equipment on hand.
“We acted as a team out there. Everybody did a great job,” Tarpy said. “I think it shows the value of early CPR. It’s important that people learn that.”
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