Student artist pushes forward after full cardiac arrest

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Jesse Fonseca suffered from  cardiac arrest in April of this year; he is only 19 years old.

His art class had just started. From his memory, he sat down and prepared for class.

That’s about all he can recall from that morning.

“I just blacked out, it’s all I remember,” he said. “How everybody else perceives it, they saw me walking [and]… they said I asked someone for a portfolio grade and then by the time I asked them, I froze and I fell on the ground.” He has no recollection even asking the question. “I don’t remember anything after that, all I remember after that was me being in the hospital, and they told me … that I almost died.”

At the hospital, the doctors performed the therapeutic hypothermia protocol, to cool the temperature in his body.

“It brought me back, they forced my heart to restart again,” he said.

The cardiac arrest wasn’t painful, as Fonseca describes it as a “deep sleep.” Fonseca was hospitalized for three weeks.

Still a teenager, Fonseca said doctors were puzzled as to why this happened.

“They [came] up with some theories.” Eventually he was diagnosed with Brugada syndrome, a rare heart condition that causes an abnormal heartbeat.

In his second week in the hospital, the doctors performed surgery to implant a cardiac defibrillator. The small device monitors

Fonseca’s heart and delivers little electric shocks to manage his heartbeats when needed.

His last week in the hospital was to heal from the surgery.

As life threatening as it is, for Fonseca, there’s a comfort in knowing.

“After hearing about it, it doesn’t worry me,” he said confidently.

Fonseca never had any heart issues as a child. It wasn’t until his freshman year of high school when he suffered a panic attack.

His mother took him to the hospital; it was then the doctors paid attention to something more severe.

“They noticed the hole in my chest … Pectus Excavatum,” he said. “It’s a deformity in the chest, they said they’ll fix it when I’m of age.”

Doctors concluded that this too was a factor in his cardiac arrest. Now years after his diagnosis of Pectus Excavatum, on

November 6th, Fonseca is finally due for surgery to correct his chest.

“They’re going to break the cartilage inside and let it heal so it can grow into a full chest,” he said.

Despite how the event altered his lifestyle, Fonseca doesn’t let that define him, what defines him is his artwork.

“I’m an artist. I like drawing, painting [and] what not.” In his spare time he sketches and is also a web designer. Still, the memory of what happened is still fresh to him.

“At times I forget it, but it always crosses my mind,” he said. “It doesn’t scare me.”