Mother saves daughter who went into sudden cardiac arrest during cheer competition by using CPR, AED

Andrea Joe performed CPR for nearly 10 minutes

A North Carolina cheerleader is alive today because of her mother’s quick action.

She was warming up for a cheer competition when her heart suddenly stopped beating. Fortunately, her mother was there and knew exactly what to do.

It’s called sudden cardiac arrest because it can happen without warning. And this family’s story should be a lesson for everyone.

They are stunts Keianna Joe has done hundreds of times, but the unthinkable happened on Sunday (March 5). Joe, 17, collapsed and was unresponsive in cardiac arrest.

“I felt for a pulse, and there was no pulse,” said Andrea Joe. “I know CPR. I know how to do this. This is my baby, and I have to save her.”

For nearly 10 minutes, Andrea, a certified medical assistant, performed CPR on her daughter.

“I was like, ‘Come on, Keianna, come on,’” Andrea said. “We’re not doing this. We’re not doing this today. The vision of her laying there, not moving, not breathing, not responding was the scariest moment of my life.”

Finally, an AED arrived.

“The machine said shock required, and I mean, I’ve trained on these AED devices before, and they’ve never told me shock required,” Andrea said.

With that shock and another round of CPR, Keianna’s heart started beating again.

“Her mom, just without hesitation, shocked her daughter back into a normal rhythm and saved her life,” said a man.

Doctors still don’t know exactly what caused Keianna’s cardiac arrest

but after 10 days in the hospital, she now has a small defibrillator implanted in her chest.

“She’s here, and she’s right next to me, and I’ve got her, and it’s the best feeling ever,” Andrea said.

“It was very hard for me to be in the hospital and away from my family,” said Keianna. “But the one person that was always by my side, and then I knew that was always there, was my mom.”

Keianna’s family says this is why having an AED at every school and facility where kids are playing sports is critical. And parents, you are the ones who need to ask if there is an AED, and if there’s not, push for that to change.

More: CPR training resource guide: Why it’s important, how it works, how to get trained

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.