A second chance at life

Alexander Sinn • Dec 19, 2018 at 7:00 AM

FRUITPORT TWP. — Luke Anhalt is out of the hospital after collapsing on the basketball court last week.

The Fruitport Calvary Christian senior returned to his Spring Lake home Tuesday and, by his account, is feeling pretty good.

Shooting free throws during a light practice Thursday night, Anhalt suffered a cardiac arrest, and thanks to the quick action of his coach, Dr. Jeff Zehr, was kept alive by two shocks from an automated external defibrillator (AED). He was rushed to Mercy Health in Muskegon by ambulance, stabilized, then taken to DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

The 17-year-old Anhalt has no recollection of the events leading up to his collapse. When he initially woke in the hospital, he said, his attention span was about 20 seconds. 

“Today, getting home and looking at my practice clothes, I remember a lot more,” he said. “I remember getting ready for the day and changing for practice, but I don’t remember the incident at all.”

The cause of the cardiac arrest remains unknown, according to Luke’s father, Dr. Jeff Anhalt, and Luke’s doctors called the situation “remarkable.” He will undergo blood work and genetic testing to further investigate.

Luke said his dad, an orthopedic practitioner, helped explain what he was going through, as doctors determined he would need a implanted defibrillator.

Luke received the device — planted under his skin on his left side under his armpit — on Monday. It will provide the life-saving spark if his heart enters a fatal rhythm again, Dr. Anhalt explained.

Currently dealing with soreness from the implant, Luke faces a 2-3 month recovery, but still has hopes of returning to the basketball court.

After canceling games Friday and Monday, Zehr said practices have been about finding a way to play without Luke. If Luke can return to his position at power forward by the end of the season, Zehr said, he will.

Luke said he is grateful for his team and the community that have supported him in his recovery.

“The way everything happened was textbook,” Luke said. “If something like this ever has to happen, it should be like this.”

If Luke isn’t able to return to the basketball court this season, he will make it onto the soccer field with his Lakeshore Premier team this spring. He is also recruited to play soccer at Spring Arbor University in 2019, and his soccer coach reached out Tuesday to offer his support.

“That’s important for me, to be looking ahead to see there is something ahead,” Luke said.

He won’t be back in school until after the Christmas break, but Calvary Christian students have been hard at work anticipating Luke’s return, making pine wood ornaments referencing the Bible passage, “The Miracle of Luke.”

A faith community has rallied around Luke, who said he believes it was more than equipment that saved his life.

“He feels like he’s been given a second chance,” Dr. Anhalt said of his son. “He isn’t taking that lightly. It’s up to you what you do with that. He grasps that fully.”

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