Advocates of Hope

The man said  “Don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, with starfish all along it?  There’s too many, you can’t possibly make a difference!”  The young girl bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea and said…. “made a difference to that one

Obviously these are some exceptional young people, but what they have in common is that they were ordinary people who cared. They wanted to act, to do something, to make life better for other people—and they have.

Kasandra Dengate

On January 27, 1010, at the age of 16, I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while sleeping.  There were no warning sings. I survived because my family performed CPR and paramedics used an AED. After being air lifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital, I was immediately cooled in order to help prevent brain damage. I was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. While in the hospital, I also suffered from a TIA stroke due to a blood clot that had formed. The cause of my sudden cardiac arrest was Long QT Syndrome. I went through surgery to receive an ICD and spent about a month in the hospital before being able to return home.

Since I learned my diagnosis, my old sister, who was at my side the whole time, had the same surgery a month after I was out of the hospital.  The doctors now believe that Long QT caused my mother’s death at the age of 26.


Kayla Burt

It was New Year’s Eve 2002. I was a starting guard on the women’s basketball team at the University of Washington and in the prime of my athletic career.  Being a young athlete with no prior medical history, I felt invicible to medical hardship; oblivious to what would nearly kill me in the blink of an eye. A new reality in the journey of my life would change who I would be forever.

After a typical 3 hour practice, I had eight teammates at my house watching movies – all trying to stay awake to ring in the new year. I have no recollection of what took place next, but I have amazing friends who took over a situtaion that transcends my comprehension. At 11:15 I sat down on my bed saying “I feel light-headed” and then collapsed, landing face down on the floor. My eyes rolled back and I began to turn purple.  I appeared “lifeless.” One friend immediately called 911, one ran to the door yelling of help, one moved furniture for EMS access, and two friends began CPR.

Paramedics were able to shock my heart to a normal sinus rhythm. I lay in a coma for 15 hours at UW Medical Center. Six days later, I had an ICD placed in my chest in case or future arrythmias. I had to hang up my basketball shoes but, I also realized how fortunate and blessed that I was alive.

To this day, experts are unsure why I went into a cardiac arrest. Today, I live a completley normal life that involves daily exercise, basketball, running and biking. I am passionate about raising awareness about heart health and hope to prevent another athlete from going through what I have.


Natasha Dengate

I was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome after my sister suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in 2010.  Fortunately, due to the quick action of family administering CPR and paramedics using an AED, she survived.  In a big way, my sister also saved my life. Without her diagnosis, I would not have known that I had this Long QT Syndrome. I never had any symptoms until a little over a year after I received my ICD. I had a cardiac event where my ICD saved my life. Doctors now believe that our mother passed away from the same condition when she was 26.

It can be quite intimidating to be young and living with a heart condition but, what I always remind myself is that we are not alone….and we have been given this chance at life for a reason. Everything that we have been through has really shown me how special and fragile life is. This has made me want to reach out to others and offer support and create awareness of how important CPR and AED’s are in saving lives.


Tori Sorenson

January 24th, 2010. I was a 22 year-old, college senior when I collapsed in the middle of the basketball court. I suffered a cardiac arrest.  After twelve minutes of CPR, I was shocked three times with an AED and my heartbeat was restored. I was rushed to the hospital where I was placed in an induced coma and therapeutic hypothermia was used in order to prevent further physical damage. I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – an unexpected and unforeseen condition. An ICD was implanted beneath my left clavicle and I began rehabilitation.

Due to depleted oxygen supply to my brain, during my arrest, I suffered anoxic brain damage. I had to re-learn how to see, walk, read, add, brush my teeth…you name it. After six weeks, I was able to walk out of the rehabilitation center.  I returned to school the following year in order to complete my final semester. I am limited in my physical capacity but, still try to workout daily. Since my arrest three of my siblings have been diagnosed with HCM. I am so blessed and grateful to be able to share my story and provide support to other young people with cardiac problems.