Frankston teenager, Benny Cooper is miraculously back on his feet and fitter than ever, after a near-death experience 18 months ago when his heart suddenly stopped during a triathlon.
At age 16 and at peak fitness, Benny had nearly completed a triathlon when he collapsed, going into cardiac arrest. His dad, Paul and a nearby doctor started CPR before Ambulance Victoria paramedics arrived and re-started his failing heart, saving his life.
“When he did collapse I actually thought he had fainted, unaware that his heart had actually stopped,” says Paul.
Benny was rushed to Monash Heart where Doctor Suraj Varma detected a rare abnormality which caused a dangerously fast and irregular heartbeat.
“The medical team really assured us that they knew what they were doing, and I really had this profound sense of faith and hope,” recalls Benny’s mum, Shelley.
Benny was then transferred to the Royal Children’s Hospital where the cardiology team performed enduring major heart surgery to amend the abnormality.
Despite undergoing such a major procedure, Benny was determined to get better and started exercising again just eight weeks later.
Many patients who suffer such severe cardiac arrest are left with physical complications for the rest of their lives, but Benny’s health is ticking along perfectly.
“His heart is pretty much as normal as it could be, he has had an excellent recovery,” says Dr Varma.
Now Benny will participate in the Run Melbourne half marathon to raise money for the Monash Health staff who got him back on track.
“Not to push myself, but to really use my heart and show that this is extraordinary to be able to run again,” says Benny.
If you would like to donate to Benny’s Run Melbourne campaign, or another Monash Health department of your choice, visit: