Dr. Mark Berg had a busy schedule seeing patients at his clinic on Monday, but he made time to visit a teenager at Regions Hospital in St. Paul over lunch hour.
When the doctor entered the high school junior’s room, Brayden Weber hugged him for 45 seconds.
“It was good to finally see him and thank him in person for what he did,” Weber said from his hospital bed Monday afternoon.
Weber believes Berg saved his life Saturday afternoon. His parents agree.
“Absolutely,” his mom, Sara Waytashek, said. “He said, ‘We were just doing what we do.’ But to me, you saved my son’s life. Don’t minimize what you did.”
Berg spearheaded a quick response to a medical emergency when Weber collapsed after his semifinal match at the state wrestling championships at Xcel Energy Center.
Weber, from Becker High, lost by pin in the 220-pound weight class. He shook his opponent’s hand and then collapsed as he was leaving the mat.
His parents ran down from the stands once it became clear that his condition was serious. His mom saw his lips turning purple and his face discolored. They were told later that he didn’t have a pulse.
Berg, who serves as the tournament doctor, immediately began chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. He was assisted by two certified athletic trainers, Karin Shelstad and Jenna Arnold of the Institute for Athletic Medicine.
Matches were stopped and the arena went silent as the medical team tended to Weber.
“To see him lifeless was the scariest and worst moment of my life,” said Brayden’s father, Wayne.
The first responders had a defibrillator present, but it wasn’t needed. Berg’s team was able to revive Weber after a few minutes.
Weber says he remembers being pinned and nothing after until he regained consciousness. He heard the defibrillator machine beeping and thought it was his alarm clock. He heard his mom’s voice, looked at her and said, “Hey, Mom.”
Weber gave the crowd a thumbs-up as he left on a stretcher, receiving a thunderous ovation. He underwent a series of tests in the hospital before being discharged late Monday afternoon. Nothing abnormal about his heart was found. The family is awaiting results of an MRI.
Weber said he felt normal before the match. He said he bumped heads with his opponent early and passed an ensuing concussion test, but the family doesn’t know what caused his collapse. They’re just relieved that he now feels, in his words, “great.”
“I feel like nothing ever happened,” he said. “My chest is sore from the compressions. Other than that, I’m fine.”
The medical response was critical, led by Berg, who has worked the state wrestling championships since 1999, along with state tournaments in other sports. He wrestled for the Gophers for one season as a student, and his son James also is a former Gophers wrestler.
Berg attended the wrestling championships in two important capacities: doctor and dad.
His youngest son, Cael, won the individual championship at 138 pounds for Simley a few hours after he resuscitated Weber. The doctor was in the stands cheering for Simley’s wrestlers when the public address announcer acknowledged the first responders who had assisted Weber earlier.
Berg was not cleared to discuss details of his actions in a phone interview Monday. He politely shifted the spotlight away from himself, credited any successful medical outcome to “teamwork” and preparation, and noted that the focus should remain on the wrestlers who competed, including his son.
Weber’s father said Berg’s visit with the family on Monday was “like meeting a hero.” The doctor is uncomfortable with that label.
“That’s kind of mislabeling just doing your job,” he said.
Weber’s family and outside observers feel otherwise.
“They wasted no time and they were flawless,” said Waytashek.
Weber hopes to return to sports soon. His goal is to play Division I football. His family has been inundated with well wishes from the tight-knit wrestling community.
That bond was on display at the 220-pound award ceremony. Waytashek brought a poster to the arena that had her son’s name and picture of his Becker singlet. The other competitors in his weight class who medaled signed the poster, draped Brayden’s sixth-place medal over it and then held it up while they were being recognized on the podium.
“Pretty incredible,” his mom said.