After near-death experience, New Kent student on road to recovery

New Kent Public Schools bus driver Tansle Ferrell (left) poses with 16-year-old high school student Janna Apple (center) and Corporal N. Heath Jenkins (right). Ferrell and Jenkins performed CPR on Apple on Dec. 3 when she collapsed on Ferrell's bus. Amy Jo Martin photo

"If they bring a helicopter in and don't call it off, there is hope. We had hope," he said.

Janna Apple was rushed to VCU Medical Center, where she was intubated and cooled.

"They did an aortic protocol where they freeze you, so your body temperature will drop, and rewarm you," said Roberta Apple.

"Everyone in the hospital, including the critical care nurses and the whole medical team, was amazing."

Eight days after she was admitted to the hospital, Janna Apple left MCV with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in her chest, a smile on her face, and a new outlook on life.

"She recently posted something on Facebook that said something like, 'I have seen the face of God and I'm not afraid. He's not done with me'," said Roberta Apple. "Janna's an amazing person and she wants to tell everyone her story."

Janna Apple's near-death experience has made her appreciate her life.

"It brought me closer to my faith, knowing that those people were there for me, and through it all, I have gained a lot of great new friends," she said.

"It's a good ending to a bad situation."

The cardiologist diagnosed Janna Apple with myocarditis, a viral infection that causes inflammation of the heart muscle.

Myocarditis, which can present various symptoms, has been attributed to five to 20 percent of all cases of sudden death in young adults.

Janna Apple had not been feeling bad, aside from a sinus infection she had two weeks before the incident. Her blood work at the time did not indicate anything was wrong.

"I'm feeling a lot better," said Janna Apple. "I'm back in school and back on the bus."

According to Ferrell, Janna Apple has "reclaimed her seat" on her bus and she couldn't be happier.

For her mother, witnessing the community's love and support has been overwhelming.

"Everyone has been a part of this and they have all reached out," Roberta Apple said. "It really has touched our lives."

From the very start, Ferrell and Jenkins have been pivotal in Janna Apple's recovery.

"Officer Jenkins came in the day after she was admitted into the hospital and I was so glad to see him, I gave him a big hug," Roberta Apple said.

Ferrell was also the first person that Janna Apple called when she was able to speak.

"It was unbelievable to hear her voice," said Ferrell, who also saved the first text she received from Roberta Apple following her daughter's recovery in the hospital. It read: "She says she's hungry and she wants to go home."

Jenkins, Ferrell, and King were recently recognized by the New Kent County School Board for their quick heroic actions that day.

"Without the quick thinking and action of these three people, [Janna Apple] would not be alive today. Period," said Dr. Robert "Rick" Richardson, Jr. in a phone interview.

The road to recovery has been long for Janna Apple, but her mother is sure that God is on their side and that her daughter will be fine.

"The hand of God put all the right people in right place at the right time," she said. "We are so blessed."

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.