While most 21-year-olds are getting ready to start summer jobs or take some time off between college semesters, Kyle Makurat is busy campaigning for Wisconsin youngsters to learn CPR. The mission is a personal one for Kyle, since CPR has saved his life on multiple occasions.
Kyle’s first experience with cardiac arrest took place one ordinary afternoon when he was running track during his physical education class at his high school in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Kyle, who was only 13 years old at the time, would have died had his gym teacher not been trained in CPR. A few years later, Kyle had another cardiac arrest at home. His mother, Dawn, found him unconscious in the shower. He was blue from oxygen deprivation. Once again, CPR brought him back from the brink of death.
Though CPR saved his life, Kyle suffered permanent brain damage. As a result, he has lost part of his vision and has had to learn to walk and talk all over again. His vision loss is what brought him to the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI) in Janesville.
Even though the odds were stacked against him, Kyle didn’t let that stop him from exceeding the expectations his impairments have dictated. For example, Kyle went on to hold down several jobs and perform well academically throughout the rest of his high school experience.
It was while working with a speech therapist at WCBVI that Kyle decided to use his story to inspire his peers to become certified in CPR. His speech therapist, David Perrodin, says he knew when he met Kyle that great things would follow. “I knew when I started to work with Kyle that there was probably some special project or something special that was to come out of that,” he said.
With David’s help, Kyle created a video that chronicled his journey and highlighted how CPR had saved his life. In the video, Kyle explains that CPR works. He knows that it saved his life, and has saved the lives of countless others. “Get trained and stay trained,” Kyle says in the video,” because it can save a life.
Kyle’s efforts paid off. In 2016, his home state of Wisconsin became the 27th state to make both CPR and automatic external defibrillator (AED) training requirements for high school graduation. Kyle continues to share his story with as many people as he can, and especially with young people in high school. As more and more people become certified, Kyle knows that more people will be given a second chance at life.