MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Rogers woman who spent two-and-a-half months in the hospital has an amazing story of recovery and optimism.
Adela Alvarez went into cardiac arrest while teaching a Zumba class last winter, and as doctors worked to save her life, they discovered another serious threat.
She had a blood clot and a serious infection that required her right leg to be amputated above the knee.
“It is hard, waking up with no leg,” Alvarez said. “Really, when I see everything that I went through, the leg is nothing.”
She was released from the hospital one month ago, and she has a new lease on life.
“I am so grateful to God, to be alive,” she said. “You know, they say only 4 percent of people survive cardiac arrest.”
In January, the 49-year-old picture of health was doing what she loved to do most. When not teaching Spanish to teenagers, she was teaching Zumba to women trying to get fit.
“She was asking us: How did you guys like that? Was it fun?” said Nan Martin, a friend of Alvarez’s. “All of a sudden she looked at us and said ‘I don’t feel well’ and collapsed.”
Martin had just taken a refresher course in CPR. She hadn’t planned to be in Zumba that night, but her personal trainer canceled her workout at the last minute.
She performed CPR on Alvarez for 20 minutes, non-stop.
“The doctor, he says to me, the CPR saved you,” Alvarez said.
She was in critical condition and heavily-sedated for weeks. When she was finally able to hold a conversation with her husband, Ramon, she had no idea what had happened.
“They explained to me, and then I look at my leg…And he said to me, ‘You know, they needed to take off your leg, because you had infection and it was to save your life.’ He was crying when he say that to me,” Alvarez said. “And I look at my daughter and say, ‘Why he’s crying? I have other leg… and I have my two hands.'”
Students at Mayer Lutheran High school, where Alvarez teaches, have organized fundraisers to help cover her medical expenses.
And her Zumba students have formed new friendships while praying for her.
“The lesson is: It doesn’t matter what you go through,” Alvarez said. “God is with you, and God will help you. God will surround you with people who will help you, that will help you to get through.”
She is using a walker to get around for now, but in about six weeks, she should be moving around with a new prosthetic leg.
Doctors inserted an implantable cardiac defibrillator in Alvarez’s heart to prevent problems in the future.
Still, they aren’t sure why she went into cardiac arrest, but say her recovery has been amazing.
Her medical insurance will likely cover the cost for a basic prosthetic leg, but in order to have enough flexibility to teach Zumba, she needs a specialized, athletic leg.
You can support Alvarez by visiting her CaringBridge page.