Brayden Weber sounded like a typical teenager on summer break when he answered the phone Sunday night.
“I was at the beach all day with my friends today,” he said.
Hard to believe only three days earlier he underwent a heart procedure at Mayo Clinic to fix a defect that caused Weber to collapse and lose consciousness after his semifinal match at the wrestling state championships at Xcel Energy Center in early March.
The rising senior and two-sport standout at Becker High School says he feels “totally normal.” Doctors cleared him to resume physical activity with no restrictions starting next Thursday. His family experienced a wave of relief knowing what caused that frightening moment when he collapsed while walking off the mat.
“It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Weber said. “I don’t have to stress out about anything anymore. Everything is just going to be OK.”
Weber felt disoriented throughout his Class 2A semifinal loss in the 220-pound weight class. He collapsed after shaking hands with his opponent. A medical team led by Dr. Mark Berg resuscitated Weber on the mat as his parents and the entire arena fell silent. He did not have a pulse at one point.
A stress test at the hospital later that week triggered another episode, though not as severe. Weber was referred to Mayo Clinic in April, but his appointment got delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
An opening came last week, and Weber spent four days at Mayo undergoing a series of tests. One procedure discovered a type of supraventricular tachycardia, a condition that affects electrical impulses.
Doctors performed an ablation in that area to correct it and also inserted a device in Weber’s pectoral muscle called a LINQ that will monitor his heart rhythm 24 hours a day for the next three years.
Weber was discharged a day later, returning home on Friday. By Sunday, he was enjoying a beach day with friends, although no swimming or workouts until 14 days post-surgery. But doctors cleared him to return to wrestling and football.
“He asked about cliff jumping,” his mother, Sara Waytashek, said, laughing. “He got the OK for everything.”
Weber is anxious to start working out again and expects he might be a little “gun-shy” initially. Football is his favorite sport and he hopes to play in college as a linebacker. He has regular recruiting contacts with North Dakota State coaches.
“I’m sure there will be a little bit of anxiety, watching his facial expressions for a while,” Waytashek said. “We might have a code signal like, give me a thumb’s-up in the stands or something that [says] he’s OK.”
Waytashek stays in frequent contact with Dr. Berg, whom the family believes saved Brayden’s life with his quick action on the mat, with help from two certified athletic trainers on site. The family hopes to have dinner or some type of gathering to thank all of them in person again now that stay-at-home restrictions are being loosened.
“You pray for a good outcome and honestly, you couldn’t have had a much better outcome,” Waytashek said. “He gets to pursue his dream. As a parent, that means a lot.”