Berger welcomed to the Spectrum with a standing ovation

Posted at 9:15 PM, Dec 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-09 02:10:14-05

MURRAY, Utah - Utah State University men's basketball forward Danny Berger returned to the Spectrum in Logan Saturday evening just hours after he was released from the hospital.

Berger, 22, was at a team practice at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum arena on Tuesday afternoon when he collapsed. Berger says he remembers everything leading up to that last play he ran before passing out.

"I felt like when you're in bed and you stand up to quick and you feel light-headed it felt kind of like that. It just kind of went black and the next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital," Berger said.

His heart started beating erratically and eventually went into cardiac arrest. Doctors say Berger's heart was stopped for a full minute.

Mike Williams, a USU trainer who was at the practice, treated Berger at the scene with CPR and Jesse Park, team manager, sprinted to get an automated external defibrillator (AED) to revive him. 

“When he collapsed, he went to the floor and he was no longer breathing. The process that goes through when that happens is a very straightforward protocol that we go through. Mike Williams followed that exactly how you’re supposed to,” said team physician Trek Lyons earlier this week.

Doctors say the quick response is ultimately why Berger is still alive.

"I swear it was even before he hit the ground I was out of my chair and sprinting up the tunnel," Berger said.

When USU campus police arrived on-scene, they say Berger was not breathing. They got him breathing and transported him to a local hospital, then Intermountain Medical Center in Murray in critical condition.

Berger says the sequence of events that happened after he blacked out can only be described as miraculous.

"I just thank God, I thank God first of all because everything had to be perfect and in place to have that happen like it did. And there's been, there's been so many times in my life that God has had his hand," Berger said.

Doctors say Berger was born with a tendency that his heart could do something like that, but there was no way to know until something like Tuesday's collapsed happened. Doctors have implanted a defibrillator under his skin to jolt his heart if the same thing happens again.

The defibrillator in Berger's skin has to heal before he can play again, but doctors say that at this point, there's no reason he couldn't play again in a few weeks.

Berger was released from the hospital on Saturday in time to cheer on his teammates for their game against Western Oregon. His arrival on the floor at the Spectrum was met with a standing ovation.