KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Centers for Disease Control says heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. While most of those deaths are associated with adults, kids sometimes fall victim to heart problems as well.
One Knoxville family was shocked a year ago when their five-year-old son had a heart attack. His dad jumped in to perform CPR.
This Saturday marks exactly one year since Stone Buckner’s heart attack. Stone had no health problems at birth or anytime afterward. His parents say he had just played a couple of T-ball and soccer games the day before. They never suspected their son could have a heart attack.
He climbed out of bed and collapsed in the hallway. Dad David Buckner heard him and took him to their bed.
“He just started to become stiff and was completely unresponsive.” said David Buckner.
He was suffering from a heart attack.
“He was actually making a sound an individual makes when they are actually passing away,” said mom Nikki Buckner.
David Buckner quickly performed what little CPR he knew, pumping blood through his little boy’s body until paramedics arrived.
“Doing 17 minutes of CPR and thinking my son wasn’t going to make it,” he said. “Thankfully I was able to stay calm and listen to my instinct and do what I felt like needed to be done.”
Stone was flown to Vanderbilt Medical Center where doctors discovered he had a rare heart problem called long QT syndrome. Doctors say CPR and surgery saved his life, earning him the nickname “Stone Strong.”
To look at Stone today, he just looks like any other normal, six-year-old boy, having fun and playing with other kids. You’d never guess shortly after going to the hospital he had a pacemaker put in, which he will likely have his entire like.
“I think I’ve learned to look at life and just realize everybody has something, so this is our story and his story, and I thank one day for it,” said Nikki Buckner.
Since coming home from the hospital, both parents have taken extra steps to become CPR certified, recommending everyone learns at least the basics.
“It may not be Stone next time. It could be my wife. It could be my dad. It could be a complete stranger. You could impact some other family’s entire life by it, just because of something that you took the time to know,” said David Buckner.
The Buckners say they don’t mind sharing their story and do so every once in a while at special events and church, hoping to encourage more people to get CPR certified. A few months ago, the American Heart Association surprised the family by choosing Stone as their “heart hero.”