In our spring 2021 issue, we introduced you to Katie Young, a young woman who was celebrating her college graduation at a bowling alley when her heart stopped beating. You also got to know Amanda Gunter, the Registered Nurse who — coincidentally — was in the same bowling alley, and who saved Katie’s life.
Unbeknownst to Katie, she had a condition called Long QT syndrome (LQTS), which causes problems with the body’s electrical system that regulates heartbeat. Since our initial story about Katie came out, she met with a specialist at Mayo Clinic, who recommended a procedure called left cardiac sympathetic denervation. “This is where they go in and remove a portion of your left sympathetic nerve in your chest cavity,” Katie explained. This helps regulate heartbeat and minimizes the risk of future arrhythmias. “It’s not a cure. The LQTS will always be there, but they’ve reduced the problem, so it’s much less concerning.”
In addition to Katie’s good health, she has completed a tattoo apprenticeship and has spent the last two years tattooing at Good Dominion Tattoo Company in Rapid City. “I’ve been really busy but it’s great,” she said. “It’s crazy, you know? I get to see all sorts of different people every single day, and I’m doing something different every day.”
Last year, she even had the opportunity to tattoo the nurse who saved her life. “I really wanted to commemorate our happenstance meeting, and just really wanted a piece of her artwork on my body,” Amanda said. “I had her design something that I had in mind, and she did it for me. We bonded over that, too.”
Amanda is still an RN at Rapid City Hospital. “I’m still working in Labor and Delivery, and I’m just enjoying spending time with my husband and two kids — we try to enjoy as much time outside as possible in the summer.”
Katie and Amanda do their best to stay in touch — they haven’t had the opportunity to get together lately, but the two share a connection that neither takes for granted. “I think about her all the time, and I’m so grateful that she’s doing well. She is an incredibly special person, and it’s wonderful seeing what she’s capable of,” Amanda said.
“I’m still always so grateful for her,” Katie said. “I think about her all the time, how lucky I am that she was there — things could have gone very, very differently. Amanda is an amazing person, and I’m thankful that she’s part of my life.”
Katie recently had exciting news to share with Amanda — she and her boyfriend, Josh, are expecting a child.
“We are so excited! It’s one more reason I want to say thank you to Amanda. Without her, this wouldn’t have happened either,” Katie said.
For mothers with LQTS, the risk of cardiac events is reduced during pregnancy, but often increases during the first nine months following delivery. Katie and her family have planned for this and are working with specialists every step of the way to ensure she and her baby will be safe and healthy.
“There are definitely new challenges, but I think that’s true for every new mom,” Katie said. “Mine are just a little different. We’re doing everything we can to keep me and the baby safe, and we’re so excited to meet him or her.”
Written by Wade Ellett
Photos by Bob Slocum