Dad credited with saving daughter’s life after ‘sudden death’ heart stoppage

Posted at 4:41 PM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 16:42:39-04

BRANSON, Mo. – It was a miracle in Missouri.

While vacationing in Branson for her birthday, a 6-year-old Oklahoma girl's heart stopped, but her dad saved her life – without any training.

Seeing her play with her siblings, you'd never think Peyton Woods suffered what doctors call "sudden death" just a couple of weeks ago.

"We were going to get a lollipop," Peyton told KFOR. She doesn't remember much, but her parents remember every second.

Peyton came down with what her parents thought was a typical respiratory issue and took her to urgent care.

But, when Peyton and her dad went to Walmart to get her medicine and that lollipop, out of nowhere – she collapsed.

"She skipped into Walmart," said her mom, Amber Woods. "She skipped in with him."

Instinct took over. Her dad, Ricky, started chest compressions, even though he'd never been trained.

"I couldn't wait on anyone else to come," he said. "I mean, two minutes later, I don't know if we'd be sitting here."

Next thing the family knew, Peyton and her mother were on an airplane. Luckily, a bed opened up at The Children's Hospital at OU Medicine so they didn't have to stay in Missouri.

"Closer to home, and they're the best of the best," Amber said.

Peyton was rushed into surgery as soon as doctors figured out what was wrong.

"She had what we call 'sudden death,' secondary to the heart-stopping," said Dr. Harold Burkhart. "Often, it's due to arrhythmia, meaning a funny rhythm or a slow rhythm of the heart."

Burkhart said it's something very rare, especially because symptoms usually pop up shortly after birth.

Thankfully, Peyton was in the best hands possible.

Burkhart actually helped develop a smaller pacemaking device for children years ago. When Peyton's heart goes out of rhythm, it shocks it.

Peyton's big sister is now helping her keep up with the lifesaving technology, as she slowly gets back to her normal fun-loving athletic self. She has big plans, too, like going Chuck E. Cheese, she said.

"Thank God for - he doesn't like taking credit for it - but he saved her life, so," Amber said of her husband.

Now, they're both getting trained in CPR and hope their story will inspire you to also.

"I got lucky, but I would have liked to have been more prepared, I think," Ricky said. "But, we're thankful, and we're definitely humbled to be here right now."

Doctors will do genetic studies and follow Peyton to see if she outgrows the condition. Normally, kids do outgrow it, but her case is different since she developed it so late.

Peyton's pacemaker is under her ribs, so she should be able to have a normal life otherwise.