Main content

    Tyler's story about heart surgery










    "Football has always been part of my life," says Tyler Zepp, an 18-year-old from Wheatland. "When I was little, I used to watch videotapes of football games with my dad. I wanted to be just like Joe Montana," he recalls with a grin.

    In 2009, Tyler was named starting quarterback of his high school football team. It seemed like a dream come true until the day he couldn’t catch his breath during football practice. The paramedics who responded couldn’t even measure his pulse rate—it was racing too fast. ER doctors stabilized Tyler, but his condition remained a mystery until he went to Sutter Medical Foundation, North Division.

    Tyler was examined with a new 64-slice CT scanner, which was purchased with a generous donation from Tyler’s community, including Sutter North employees. The scans revealed an artery blockage near Tyler’s heart that could have led to a heart attack or stroke. Instead, the star quarterback would undergo heart surgery to help restore his health.

    Although Tyler had to sit out most of the season, he did get medical approval to play part of one game—he scored two touchdowns in just minutes. "A week later, I had surgery, and it went really smoothly. The Sutter doctors and nurses took great care of me," says Tyler. Terri Zepp, Tyler's mother, adds, "It's the best care I've seen anywhere, and I've worked in hospitals. I’m in awe of Sutter."

    Pediatric Cardiologist Robert Achtel, M.D., Sutter Medical Foundation, North Division, diagnosed the brave teen. "Tyler showed great courage," he says. "I never heard him ask, 'Why me?' His prognosis is excellent, and it was my privilege to be involved in his care."

    Now, Tyler is able to do everything he used to before his medical saga began. "I’m back to my old self—and I probably have even more energy. Next year I'm playing football at Sierra College."

    "I'm Tyler Zepp, and that’s my story."