Jermaine Cullum
Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School

On Tuesday the mother of a Chicago teen who collapsed on the basketball court during a game over the weekend made the most difficult decision a parent hopes never to have to make: Tarcia Patton decided to take her son, Jermaine Cullum, off life support, WLS-Chicago reports.  

"It was so hard, I couldn't think right; I just wanted him to get up. I just knew he wasn't going to get up," Patton told the news station.

Over the weekend Jermaine, 16, had just made a layup and had turned to run back up the court during an Illinois basketball tournament game when he collapsed, witnesses, including nurse Melody Burrell, said. Burrell, who, along with a doctor in the stands, rushed to Jermaine's aid, started CPR and was able to get a pulse before Jermaine was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center.

At the hospital, Jermaine was placed in intensive care. His mother arrived at the hospital hopeful, but doctors told her that Jermaine had lost all brain activity and was not breathing on his own, the news station reported.


Patton told the news station that doctors found that her son had gone into cardiac arrest due to an undetected and rare heart condition.

Patton said she is grateful for Burrell's assistance in helping her son until the ambulance arrived. "If they did not do what they did at the basketball court, I wouldn't be able to say goodbye to my son," Patton told WLS-Chicago. "He would have passed away on that court."


Jermaine's school, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School, is reeling from the loss. The school issued a press release noting that it will make grief counselors and ministers available at the school for the students.

"He was a phenomenal person, with a great sense of humor and strong faith, who shared his kindness with his classmates and teammates," the school said in the release.


Patton has also made another decision that she hopes will help answer questions she has about her son's condition and also help others: She is donating her son's heart to Loyola for research.

"I made the decision because I know his condition is rare," she told the news station. "I want to help other kids out there that might have the same rare disease he might have with his heart."


Read more at WLS-Chicago.