He came all the way from Senegal to the Suncoast with the hope of earning a basketball scholarship. But, when the 6 foot nine teen collapsed it may be fate that brought luck, timing and modern medicine together to save his life.
18 year-old, Ibrahima Diallo's heart stopped suddenly during a practice at IMPACT Basketball in Sarasota. The quick thinking and CPR performed by Coach Justin Pizzo initially kept him alive.
Pizzo said, "He was gasping for air every thirty seconds, I kept thinking he was going to come back, So, I'm still pounding, pounding, pounding, screaming at him Iba come back, come on Iba."
Diallo doesn't remember the event. "I was practicing and I fell down." He knew that something had gone terribly wrong. "And I wake up in hospital."
Tests conducted by consulting Cardiologist Mark Ramos, of Intercoastal Medical Group revealed a very rare congenital heart defect
"From birth his heart arteries did not originate from where they normally do.' Said Dr. Ramos.
Anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA) affects only one in 300-thousand newborns, babies rarely survive into adulthood unless its repaired.
Cardiac Surgeon Jeffrey Sell of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, said ALCAPA is hard to diagnose in the very young because they cant explain what they are feeling, many think their baby is just fussy. "Most of the patients I've operated on are under three months of age, were deathly ill, with sick hearts."
Dr. Sell is one of the few surgeons world-wide to perform the procedure. He said, "A lot of surgeons will go through their entire career and never see this problem or operate on this problem."
He said, "It's a deadly problem that can be completely fixed." And Diallo is living proof.
"I'm weak now, but I'm good." He said, and, he has only one thing on his mind. "I love basketball, it's my dream to play basketball."