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Former SSU soccer player Courtney Shoda battling for her life again

Courtney Shoda, a three-year soccer player at Sonoma State University who narrowly survived after her heart abruptly stopped on the soccer field in 2017, is waiting for a heart transplant while on life support at a Southern California hospital after suffering multiple heart failures beginning March 3.

Shoda, 25, is again battling for her life more than three years after suffering sudden cardiac arrest during an SSU practice. In September 2017, she collapsed after taking a soccer ball to the chest. SSU women’s coach Emiria Salzmann and her then-husband, Mark Dunn, performed CPR and saved her life.

“My blood ran cold when I heard the news,” Salzmann said. “Oh my God, I can’t believe this happening to Courtney again. She is the kindest, sweetest, most gentle person I know.”

Shoda’s mother, Dorene Crist, confirmed that her daughter was on life support at Keck Hospital of USC in Los Angeles and was waiting for a heart transplant. Her family has been told by Keck cardiologists that they have yet to determine why her heart went into sudden cardiac arrest numerous times. Shoda was having a conversation on her cellphone when she collapsed March 3.

“The pain I am in is immeasurable,” Crist said in a text message in early March as the family shared news of their daughter’s plight with friends. Because of COVID-19, Crist can visit Shoda only two hours a day as her daughter lies in a hospital bed, kept alive by an ECMO machine, which pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

In 2017 Shoda was told she experienced a rare cardiac event, commotio cordis, when the soccer ball hit her chest between heart beats. She went on to graduate from SSU in 2018 with a degree in kinesiology and moved back to Torrance, working as an emergency room technician at Centinela Hospital while she applied for nursing school.

A GoFundMe page has been set up in Shoda’s name. More than $56,000 had been raised by Thursday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Courtney Shoda is working as an emergency room technician at Centinela Hospital and has applied for nursing school. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described her job and her status in nursing school.

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