"Football has always been part of my life," says Tyler Zepp, 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."
I’m back to my old self—and I probably have even more energy.
In 2009, Zepp 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 Zepp, but his condition remained a mystery until he went to Sutter Medical Foundation.
Zepp was examined with a new 64-slice CT scanner, which was purchased with a generous donation from Zepp's community, including Sutter North employees. The scans revealed an artery blockage near his 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 Zepp had to sit out most of that season, he did get medical approval to play part of one game—and 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," Zepp says. 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., of the Sutter Medical Foundation, diagnosed the brave teen. "Tyler showed great courage," Achtel says. "I never heard him ask, 'Why me?' His prognosis is excellent, and it was my privilege to be involved in his care."
Now, Zepp 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."