AUSTIN -- Sudden cardiac death is fatal 96 percent of the time. Doctors say the slim chance of survival depends on bystander CPR. One Austin man is alive today thanks to his 12-year-old daughter, and her ability to perform CPR.
"He lets out, 'Aly' in a loud and creepy sound," said Aly DeMarco, of Austin.
She isn't reading the latest summer book club novel, she's reading from her own journal from Valentine's Day this year. It's the day she almost lost her dad.
"I was really, really scared," she said.
Moments before, as Aly headed out the door for school, her dad called her name. He'd been riding his stationary bike. Four-year-old Addison and the family dog were with him in the room.
"I was like he's probably going to ask me to watch Addison for a moment, but I really don't want to go," said Aly. "Then I was like wait, that sounded really weird."
She found him passed out on the floor. The dog thought it was play time, but Aly knew it was panic time.
"I was like great, I'm home alone, there's a dog attacking my dad, my little sister is standing there and I don't know what to do," said Aly.
Michael had suffered sudden cardiac death.
"Sudden cardiac death is a term that means the heart is no longer mechanically functioning properly," said Rodney Horton, M.D. an electro physiologist with Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia at St. David's Medical Center. "It's not able to pump blood to meet the body's needs. If they're alone when that happens it's fatal.
Michael DeMarco wasn't alone. Aly called 911. She had just completed an infant CPR course a few months earlier so she could babysit. Still she couldn't help but think she was dreaming as she knelt over her father and did CPR until the ambulance arrived.
"I was waiting for someone to pop out and say it was a joke; I was testing your babysitting skills," she said.
In a coma for a week, Michael has some confusion as to who had saved his life.
"When I came out of the coma and they told me [what happened] I had to ask several times, 'Wait! What happened?'" he said.
He jokes that he owes her big time now.
"My friends call her "blank check," and that's definitely the case," he said with a laugh.
Jokes aside, Michael knows there is no repaying the gift of life.
"I'm here today because of my 12-year-old daughter," he said.
"If I walked out 10 minutes before he'd be stuck there with my 4-year-old sister," said Aly. "That would be horrible. I probably wouldn't have him today, I wouldn't have him today. It makes me feel really good that I did something like that."
Aly has had a birthday since that live saving episode on Valentine's Day. She's now 13-years-old. Both she and her dad say what they experienced proves you're never too young to learn CPR.
Click here for a link to St. David's Healthcare.