Every week, Randy Mullis heads to Santisi Brothers Pizzeria and Sports Grill in Phoenix, Arizona to play the crane machine. His goal is to win stuffed animals so he can bring them to kids at Banner Thunderbird hospital. All will be donated except the sports related toys. Mullis takes those home, and adds them to his huge collection in a room dedicated to his 21 year old son, Quinn.
“There are some things in this world that stop you and make you look, make you open your eyes and see what it’s about,” Mullis says. For him, what it’s about these days is being able to hug his son. Six years ago, a genetic heart defect (Long QT syndrome) almost killed Quinn.
“His heart had stopped for somewhere between 25 and 40 minutes,” says Dr. Robert Graham from Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Graham was on duty that day. “He wasn’t breathing. He was on life support at that point in time. We were controlling his body temperature and trying to minimize any damage to his brain.”
But Randy Mullis refused to give up, crying out to his unresponsive son. “I said Quinn! And Quinn’s eyes opened up. One eye went one way, one went the other way. It was amazing. It was a miracle. There was no way this should have happened.”
Dr. Graham won’t call Quinn’s recovery a miracle, but he does offer a heavenly explanation. “I think the stars aligned right. It was a surprise that he bounced back completely to where he was, yes. And he did it as quickly as he did.”
Quinn Mullis doesn’t remember everything that happened that day. “I just feel like I wouldn’t be here, either way, without some divine intervention,” he says. Since his diagnosis of his genetic heart defect (Long QT syndrome), Quinn wears a combination of a pacemaker and defibrillator to control the potentially deadly condition.
Back at the pizzeria, his dad spends one day a week trying to win stuffed animals so he can pay it forward. This is special tribute because Quinn says it’s what helped in his recovery, “I can say for a fact that the stuffed animals made all the difference to me in my morale and recovery.”
A recovery six years ago that shocked everyone. It was a life altering experience for both father and son.