Sammy Berko, a teenage boy hailing from Missouri City, Texas, visited a rock climbing gym where he experienced cardiac arrest and passed away. His mother, Jennifer Berko, recounted the incident, stating that Sammy had successfully climbed to the top of the wall, rang the bell, but suddenly went limp and appeared to either be playing around or unconscious. Upon realizing that he was unresponsive, the gym staff lowered him down.
Paramedics and doctors proceeded to administer CPR for two hours, but unfortunately, they had to inform Jennifer that her son had passed away. She and her husband, Craig, were given a few moments to say their goodbyes to their son. However, to their astonishment, two hours later, Sammy was revived and came back to life.
Jennifer shared with the local news station, “I began talking to him, expressing my love for him, and apologizing that we were unable to save him. While I was praying, my husband suddenly exclaimed, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s moving!'” The couple immediately called for the medical team, who promptly returned and provided further medical assistance.
Due to the extended period without oxygen, there were concerns that Sammy may have sustained significant brain damage. However, aside from some physical injuries, he has only experienced temporary memory loss thus far.
Sammy revealed to Fox 26 that he has no recollection of the day of the incident, stating that the last thing he remembers is signing the online waivers for the rock climbing gym the night before. He then woke up, not even realizing he was in the pediatric ICU, but in the transitional ICU instead. The first thing he can recall is his father telling him what had happened repeatedly, urging him to remember.
Although Sammy is fortunate to be alive, his journey to recovery has been arduous. He has been working to regain the strength in his legs after a month in the hospital and is receiving physical therapy to treat the ischemic spine injury.
Dr. Stacey Hall, Medical Director of the Pediatric Rehabilitation Program at TIRR, spoke to Fox 26 about Sammy’s story, stating that “He is a literal miracle.” She went on to explain that while they do see children who have undergone CPR, those who have had prolonged CPR often suffer severe global anoxic brain injury. As such, Sammy’s remarkable recovery is extraordinary.
The Berkos are currently making preparations to accommodate Sammy’s wheelchair at home. Despite the challenges he has faced, Sammy remains positive about his progress and his experience at the rehabilitation center. He shared with the local station that he knew it would be a strange and difficult journey to learn to walk again, but he is noticing improvements every day and doing something new daily.
This tragedy also brought to light a previous tragedy as three years earlier, the Berkos lost their son Frankie to the same genetic mutation that almost took Sammy’s life. Both Sammy and his mother underwent testing and are now taking medication to prevent future complications.