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Teen Saved by Nurse, Podiatrist Walks Solider Field on Sunday

Nicholas Theilgaard, 16, is alive today thanks in part to the efforts of Advocate Children’s Hospital nurse Sarah Kane and her fiancée Brian Wittmayer, when a rare heart condition caused his lungs and heart to stop working.

Sarah Kane and Brian Wittmayer honored at the Orland Fire Protection District. Credit: Ben Feldheim
Sarah Kane and Brian Wittmayer honored at the Orland Fire Protection District. Credit: Ben Feldheim

Submitted by Advocate Children’s Hospital

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Theilgaard has had a crazy past three months. Back in July, he nearly lost his young life as a result of a rare heart condition. This Sunday, he will walk onto Soldier Field’s turf before the Chicago Bears take on the New Orleans Saints.

Advocate Children’s Hospital invited Nicholas, a high-school student from Midlothian, Ill., to walk onto Soldier Field with one of his parents and help the Chicago Bears unfurl a large 4th Phase Flag just prior to kickoff. Afterwards, Nicholas will remain in the stadium to enjoy the game – and hopefully see a win.

Three months ago, this opportunity would have seemed far-fetched to Nicholas or even his doctors. While enjoying dinner with family at a restaurant on July 7, Nicholas suddenly collapsed; his heart had stopped beating. What could have been a tragic situation turned around in seconds, thanks to a nurse who immediately rendered lifesaving CPR.

But, not just any nurse.  In fact, Sarah Kane, RN, is a nurse practitioner in pediatric heart surgery at Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn, the hospital where Nicholas’ cardiology team practices and where the staff has intimate knowledge of his rare heart condition. She and her fiancée, a local physician, just happened to be dining at the same time as the Theilgaard family.

Nicholas suffers from arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.  The disorder causes heart muscle to slowly change into fatty tissue and to scar, forcing the heart to pump less efficiently and making it prone to abnormal rhythms, said his attending pediatric cardiologist, Ira Shetty MD.

With the help of Sarah, her fiancée and paramedics, Nicholas’s heartbeat and pulse returned, and he was stabilized at a nearby hospital before being transferred to the pediatric surgical heart unit at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn.

Now that Nicholas is back to the life of a normal teenager, he will have a story to tell for years about walking onto the coveted Soldier Field Astroturf and taking part in a tradition, in which hundreds of Chicago Bears fans would gladly participate if ever given the chance.

Read more about how Kane and her fiance Brian Wittmayer helped save Theilgaard.

Kane and Wittmayer were also honored at an Orland Fire Protection District meeting for their efforts.

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