- Associated Press - Friday, December 7, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Utah State basketball player who nearly died after collapsing during practice Tuesday is expected to be able play again.

Danny Berger collapsed during practice in Logan and fell into cardiac arrest. The team’s trainer revived him using a defibrillator.

Doctors have inserted a small defibrillator underneath Berger’s skin in his chest that would kick into action and restart his heart if it stops again. His left arm will remain in a sling for three weeks because of the defibrillator. After that, doctors say he should be cleared to play again.

“If I everything goes right, it seems like I’ll have a full recovery,” the 22-year-old Berger said Friday during a press conference.

Berger will be released from the hospital Saturday and plans to go to Utah State’s Saturday night game against Western Oregon.

Doctors cannot fully explain what caused the collapse, but said he was born with a tendency for this to happen because of his heart having two to three extra beats, said Dr. Jared Brunch of the Intermountain Medical Center.

Tests show that playing basketball shouldn’t be a problem for Berger, Brunch said. When he does play again, doctors will be monitoring the heart remotely via the defibrillator. Other college basketball players have played with defibrillators in place, Brunch said.

“By all means, we want him to go back and play,” Brunch said. “He’s played at a high level of basketball for over 16 years, so his heart most of the time recovers nicely.”

Doctors have not been able to fully explain why Berger collapsed, Brunch said. Berger said he has never experienced anything like what happened, and knows nothing of any pre-existing condition.

The near-death experience has made Berger reflect on the frailty of life and strengthened his belief in God. Berger is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I can’t deny the hand of God in the whole situation,” he said. “I know for a fact that he used people to still have me here. There is a purpose why I’m here.”

This was the first time Berger has spoken to the media since the collapse.

Berger was upgraded Thursday to “fair” condition and moved out of the intensive care unit at a Salt Lake City area hospital. He has been in critical condition since being flown there by helicopter Tuesday.

Berger said he remembers what happened up until his collapse, which he said felt like standing up too fast from bed and feeling light headed. His next memory was waking up in a hospital.

Dr. Brunch said it’s remarkable that Berger survived _ at least more than half of people whose hearts stop die. Every minute, survival possibilities go down by 10 percent, he said. Berger’s heart wasn’t functioning for 30 seconds, Brunch said.

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