GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Dayle Wood has a brand new "birthday," and she's thankful for every new day, week and year she has to live.
It has been a little over a year since Wood collapsed during an Aquinas volleyball practice because of an irregular heartbeat and needed to be revived via an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Wood is still a full-time student at Aquinas and is back to playing volleyball with the Saints, thanks in part to the implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), which is programmed to detect cardiac arrhythmia and correct it by delivering a jolt of electricity and also has a pacemaker built into it, in her chest.
Life is pretty much as back to normal as can be for the former Grant volleyball standout, who was known as an aggressive player with a hard attack while with the Tigers.
"It is a very humbling feeling to be back on the court," said Wood, a sophomore. "I try to not take a single moment for granted because as we all know our last could come up when we least expect it.
"But with that said, my demeanor and mentality on the court hasn't changed. The majority of the time I forget I have my fib or that anything happened for that matter, until I look down of course, because there's a strange bump."
Wood will never forget the date of her sudden collapse – Sept. 9, 2013. At the time her father, Darin Wood, said doctors told him 92 percent of the people who suffer a similar irregular heartbeat do not survive when an attack happens.
She treated the memorable date like a birthday, and celebrated the one-year anniversary with her Aquinas teammates and family and friends.
"It was so fun," Wood said. "It got a little emotional when I went and talked to Kevin Parker, one of the trainers who brought me back, but it quickly turned back around when my mom (Cheri Wood) surprised me with cheesecakes for the team and with a one-year birthday candle. They sang 'Happy Birthday' to me and everything. Those memories will be cherished for forever."
Wood reports that so far, there have been no mishaps or complications.
When she plays volleyball, she wears an Evo Shield that fits into a custom shirt as a precaution to protect the wires, just in case she would ever get hit.
"It's pretty awesome and definitely gives me a piece of mind knowing for the most part I'll be golden," said the 19-year-old sophomore. "The facts about the shield say it can take up to a 90 mph fastball, but I don't dare try, I'll just take their word."
Wood received clearance to play during the spring.
Since then she's been back on the court and back in the classroom with a pretty normal routine. She's a great reminder of how valuable it is to have AED devices available and stationed in all gymnasiums in case something similar happens to other athletes.
But when Sept. 9 rolls around, she's reminded of how blessed she is to be alive.
"It's crazy to think it's been a year already," said Wood, whose actual birthday is Feb. 5. "I'm very thankful for how helpful and supporting my teammates and coaches have been with the transition of getting back into the swing of things. Who knew going through everything I would come out with 15, not just teammates, but sisters.
"I have been beyond blessed by the big man upstairs, and for that I'll be forever thankful."