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Mayer Lutheran teacher is optimistic after cardiac arrest and amputation
May 19, 2014

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

MAYER, MN – Adela Alvarez’s right leg is gone, but the Mayer Lutheran High School teacher isn’t focusing on what she lost after a cardiac arrest in January.

“I still have two hands; I still have one leg,” Alvarez told MLHS students May 7, her first time back on campus. “God is good. We really serve an amazing God. He is with us, even in the darkest times.”

Alvarez and her family have undoubtedly faced some of those “darkest times” the past four months.

It started Jan. 9, while Alvarez was leading her Thursday evening Zumba fitness class. During a break, Alvarez suddenly collapsed.

Nan Martin – who had just taken a CPR refresher course two weeks prior – immediately sprang into action.

Martin hadn’t planned to be in Zumba that night, but since her personal trainer cancelled their session, she made a last-minute decision to go. For about 20 minutes, Martin performed chest compressions non-stop, until paramedics were able to take over.

“Cardiac arrest is different than a heart attack,” Alvarez said. “With a cardiac arrest, the only thing that can save you is CPR. Only 4 percent of people with cardiac arrest survive.”

Alvarez’s first week in intensive care, doctors weren’t sure if she’d be in that 4 percent.

“We just prayed and prayed,” recalled Alvarez’s daughter, Agustina.

Alvarez was unconscious much of her time in the hospital, but she remembers waking up after 2.5 months and finding out what had happened.

It was then that her husband, Ramon, explained that her leg was amputated in order to save her life.

“He was crying when he said that to me,” Alvarez recalled.

Alvarez doesn’t dwell on the hardships she faces, and is instead choosing to keep a positive attitude.

“I can’t understand God’s way,” she said. “I need to look forward . . . the Bible teaches that there will be trials and problems, but God also says, ‘I will be with you,’” she added.

Alvarez said her cardiac arrest is a reminder that a person can die at any time, even if they are young.

“Life is a precious gift from God,” she said, explaining that people should live each day like it’s their last.

Alvarez isn’t certain what her future holds, but she is hoping to go back to teaching Spanish at MLHS when she is well enough.

She is currently using a wheelchair, and is making plans for a prosthetic leg. If possible, Alvarez would like to get an athletic leg that will allow enough flexibility to teach Zumba.

To contribute to Alvarez’s expenses for medical care and home modifications, check out her “GoFundMe” web page.

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