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Mayer Lutheran Spanish teacher inspiring others after cardiac arrest

Adela Alvarez is urging others to learn CPR after suffering cardiac arrest while teaching a Zumba class.

MAYER, Minn. — Adela Alvarez is a Spanish teacher at Mayer Lutheran High School.

Perhaps the most important lesson she shares, though, is about a day six years ago that forever changed her life. 

"It was a very snowy day," Adela remembers.

While doing what she loves, teaching a Zumba class,  Adela dropped to the ground. 

"I really don't remember anything. That was it. I collapsed," Adela says.

Adela suffered cardiac arrest.

One of the students in her class, Nan Martin, just happened to be there after her personal trainer canceled on her because of the snow. Nan jumped into action, performing CPR on Adela for over 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived. 

"She saved my life," says Adela. "She's a hero."

Nan had just taken a CPR class the week before. 

Adela underwent 16 surgeries, two of them open heart, over the course of two weeks.

She was placed in an induced coma for 45 days and incredibly, survived with no brain damage and no damage to her heart. 

"When I wake up I was so happy to be alive," Adela says.

Happy to be alive despite losing her right leg because of lost circulation. 

Her story has already inspired many.

In 2014 the Zumba Convention gave her the Inspiration Award of the Year and has started teaching CPR to their instructors in honor of Adela. 

"I'm so grateful to be alive but I need to do something," Adela says.

Two years ago Adela became CPR certified, is teaching it to others and raising awareness on her website.

"It's something so simple to know how to do CPR and you can save lives," she says. 

Whether she's teaching Spanish, or sharing her story, Adela is living proof to not take a single day for granted. 

"We are so blessed to be healthy. We are so blessed to be alive. Give God thanks for every single day you wake up and just do the best that you can that day," Adela says.

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Doctors still don't know what caused Adela's heart to go into cardiac arrest. -and she now lives with an internal defibrillator. 

Adela says she hopes to get back to teaching Zumba someday.

She will be part of the Go Red Health Expo at the Mall of America on Saturday.