Local teen nearly died of cardiac arrest; she shares her story at health disparity summit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Saturday a group of health care professionals met to bring attention to what they call a disparity in health care.

The First Coast Black Nurses Association held its first health disparities summit at UF Health

Action News Jax spoke with a teen who changed her lifestyle after she nearly died from  cardiac arrest.

Imani Dowdell is 19 years old and last year she went into cardiac arrest while she was asleep.

Her mother called 9-1-1 and she was rushed to emergency room.

“I was on life support for 7 days, everything failed in my body, my organs, my kidneys, my liver it just all crashed basically,” said Imani.

Imani also suffered a stroke because of the lack of oxygen to her brain and spent a month recovering at UF Health.

“A lot of therapy, a lot of medication , a lot of IVs,” is what Imani tells us she remembers.

On Saturday she shared her story in front of dozens of people at UF Health during the First Coast Black Nurses Association first health disparities summit.

Dr. Carol Neil is the President of First Coast Black Nurses Association and she says this summit sheds light on health disparities especially in the African American community.

“We realize in the African American community African Americans are number one to be on dialysis in the United States,” said Dr. Neil.


Their summer offered free screenings to help detect cancer and heart and kidneys issues.

Dr. Neil tells us this summit targets people from health zone one, an area of Jacksonville that has very little access to transportation, healthy foods, and healthcare.

Health zone one is people who live in zip codes 32224, 32268, and 32254.

Imani’s mother tells us that doctors put a implantable cardioverter defibrillator or “ICD” under her daughter’s skin.

“She’s blessed with a device that if it ever happens again it’ll shock it back into rhythm,” said Vanesha Dowdell.

Imani tells us while there were no signs and symptoms that brought on her cardiac arrest she has changed her lifestyle.

“We do exercise more , we do eat more healthy so we try to stay away from fast food even though I love fast food but we try to stay away from it,” she said.

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