“Playing the guitar, swimming and basketball.” If you were to ask 18-year-old Jonathan Smart-Abbey what his favorite pastimes are, those would be his responses. The well-liked Palos Verdes High School senior, who had recently committed to University of Arizona, was playing one of his favorite sports when his life changed forever.
On Friday, May 2nd, Jonathan went to play basketball with some friends at Ryan’s Park. He and his friends, caught up in friendly competition, played basketball for over two hours. For Jonathan and his friends, athletics were a part of everyday life. As they were playing basketball Jonathan asked one of his friends to sub for him because he felt unusually tired. As the game continued, one of the players turned to Jonathan to acknowledge an amazing shot. However, Jonathan had gone into cardiac arrest and was now laying on his side gasping for air. The players immediately gathered around. Melvin, a friend of Jonathan’s was well versed in CPR and immediately began administering the technique. A quick thinking onlooker ran to find a Park Ranger. For the next 15 minutes, the park ranger and Melvin took turns administering rescue breathing and CPR to Jonathan in an attempt to save his life. When paramedics arrived, they worked tirelessly to revive Jonathan. From the time they arrived until the time they arrived at Torrance Memorial Hospital Emergency Department they resuscitated him three times. At Torrance Memorial, Jonathan was put into a medically induced coma to protect his organs. Under the diligent care of the nurses and doctors, Jonathan was stabilized.
AFTER THE ACCIDENT & THE ROAD AHEAD
Jonathan was then transferred to Cedars Sinai. At Cedars, we learned that when Jonathan's heart stopped that day, it didn't pump sufficient blood and oxygen to his brain for a short period of time. This condition, called "anoxic brain injury" has a wide range of implications and Jonathan spent four weeks in the cedars ICU in a state of minimal consciousness. Jonathan's life was sustained during this time using a ventilator and a feeding tube, along with the tireless efforts of his doctors and nurses, and the love and support of his family. Jonathan's mother, brothers, sister, aunts/uncles, and cousins have put their lives on hold to make sure someone is by his side 24/7.
Miraculously, Jonathan regained consciousness exactly one month after his accident. In the last three weeks, he has made great strides, but the road ahead will be long. Jonathan received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and his heart is doing well. Jonathan's cognitive and physical rehabilitation, however, will be a costly endeavor. Currently in the rehab portion of Cedars, each day presents new gains, along with new struggles. Jonathan is getting stronger and re-learning to do everyday things such as walking, talking, and eating. We are all hopeful that with time and hard work, Jonathan will make a full recovery. We are so grateful to have him with us and we have begun to look at each day in terms of "small victories".
THANKS FROM JONATHAN'S FAMILY
Abena Bonsu (mother), Victor Smart-Abbey (father), James Amankwa (brother), Stephen Amankwa (brother) and Jennifer Smart-Abbey (sister), Dr. Gail Jackson (aunt) and Martha Smith (aunt) would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the prayers, support and encouragement from his classmates, the Palos Verdes High School staff, doctors, friends and family. Many have come forward in the hopes that they can provide support for the family as they begin to tackle the astronomical costs of Jonathan’s recovery.