Jeff Ballard: Beating the Odds

USF Art Adjunct professor Jeff Ballard faced something in his life that he will never forget. Earlier this summer he experienced heart failure, where his heart stopped for a significant amount of time.

On a warm Friday morning in June, Jeff Ballard was taken to the ICU at Avera Hospital while in cardiac arrest. Ballard had no oxygen for nearly 10 minutes where the situation was fatal enough that he wouldn’t be able to recover. However, medical forces showed up on the scene three minutes post the 911 call and were able to resuscitate him.

“I spent two days in a hypothermic coma, and because of the paralytic medication that they had me on, I had some short-term memory loss and so it took me a couple days to kind of start to remember things that happened prior to the event,” Ballard says.

Jeff Ballard’s wife, Courtney Ballard recalls what she witnessed right after her husband was situated in the hospital.

“He was out of it. I was just so excited to see him breathing. And to see that his heart was beating amazing,” Courtney says. “But it was also pretty scary. There were probably five or six people around him working on him.”

Courtney says that The doctors in the hospital were so caring and compassionate toward her even in the times when they had to resuscitate and perform surgeries on Ballard including putting a heart defibrillator in his side.

“When I saw my wife, I was really excited to see her.” Ballard says.”It’s been a quick recovery, it’s been a speedy and that’s been surprising to a lot of people that I run into. For me to be standing there and talked with them, it’s a miracle.”

The Ballard couple feels blessed that so many people support them in their faith and through their generous donations. They have both continued to live by faith ever since the encounter.

“I hope that this never happens again but I also hope that he can live without fear and he’s been doing that,” Courtney says.

“For me right now the mission is to just to keep moving forward with my life and keep pressing on and not let it sidetrack the things that I want to do and the plan that God has for me,” Ballard says.

His brother, Steven Ballard started a GoFundMe page to cover medical costs. Ballard’s GoFundMe page originally requested $10,000 but received a generous $20,000.

“I was really surprised to see that when I came to,” Ballard says. “It’s just cool to see the all the people that care about you support you and come around you in times of need like that.”

On September 10th, Ballard had made an outstanding comeback by competing in his first marathon with a time of under 5 hours.

“That was something that I was worried about and concerned about but it felt like something I needed to do for myself to feel that I was back to my normal self,” Ballard says.

Ballard did ask his wife about it, however at first she wasn’t 100% on board.

“At first I was annoyed, you just died and you weren’t here for it, you didn’t see it happen,” says Courtney. “I went into scripture and I was looking at what happens when God pulls off miracles, what does he do with these people that he raises from the dead? In every case, paralyzed man pick up your mat and walk home. And with Lazarus he told Lazarus’ family take off his grave clothes and let him go. And I thought I need to empower God’s miracle.”


Story by Ellie Herman | Video edited by Jade Roozenboom & Abriana School | Photos Courtesy of Courtney Ballard