A young boy is doing fine after a sudden illness stopped his heart and put him on a ventilator for days. What's strange about his case is his doctors believe it all started with an infection from a tick bite.
Watching cartoons with his dad from a Vanderbilt hospital bed, 8-year-old Michael Williams doesn't remember the day his heart stopped beating.
"A tick bit me and it kinda spread, and it infected my heart," said Michael.
Earlier this month, Michael told his parents he wasn't feeling well and was unresponsive in minutes.
"We couldn't get him to breathe," said Michael's father, Chris Williams. "We couldn't get him to talk to us. It was just a matter of putting it in God's hands and getting him to a place that could help quick enough."
With Michael not breathing or showing a pulse, his brother, Bryan, jumped in to give him CPR.
"My heart stopped moving," said Michael. "The only time I got air was when Bryan saved my life."
"I don't believe if they hadn't gotten in on AirEvac and gotten him up to Vanderbilt, he would've made it," said Williams.
Michael spent his first five days at Vanderbilt on a ventilator with inflammation of the heart.
"We honestly didn't expect him to pull through and to see him just a week later up running around playing video games, he's just done excellent," said Williams. "They've done a great job caring for him."
Spending so much time in wooded areas as director of Southeast K-9 Search and Rescue, Williams said he had no idea ticks could lead to such dangerous infections.
Vanderbilt doctors said a case as extreme as Michael's is very rare, but it's still important to be careful.
"At the very least, you should wear a Deet repellent which also guards against mosquitos," said Dr. Frank Fish. "If your kids have been out in the grass, you need to bring them in and look for ticks."
Fish added that infections come after the tick has been attached to the skin for twelve hours, and they tend to hide under clothes, under arms, and on the scalp. He advises if you believe a tick has been on a child for that long or if the tick is red, you should call a pediatrician.
Now with quite a story to share at school this fall, Michael said he's got big plans for when he comes home.
"When I get home I'm going to play with my cat, my dog, maybe play X box, and thank Bryan for saving my life," said Michael.
Williams added his older son, Bryan, was able to save Michael's life by taking a CPR course with the American Heart Association.
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