Jarrod Church is defying the odds.

Just months ago the 15-year-old Papakura schoolboy had a heart attack after playing basketball.

His brain was deprived of oxygen and he had no heartbeat for eight minutes. His brain showed so much damage "do not resuscitate" orders were made.

Now he is stunning doctors with his amazing recovery, and is smiling and walking.

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His mother, Kelly Church, said her sports-loving son went from days filled with rugby league and basketball to fighting for his life.

On Friday, August 26, the mum-of-six got a phone call to say her teenage boy had collapsed.

"I assumed it was because he had played paintball earlier that day and was dehydrated or exhausted - I really didn't think it was serious at all."

But when she arrived at the local recreation centre Kelly saw ambulance officers trying to resuscitate her lifeless son.

"When I was there they had to shock him twice to try and get his heart going. I was just stunned, it was awful," Kelly said.

"I was told he was down for eight minutes without any heartbeat."

Kelly was told an undiagnosed heart condition triggered the heart attack in her otherwise healthy son.

Jarrod Church and newphew Jariyah before Jarrod suffered a heart-attack. Photo / supplied.
Jarrod Church and newphew Jariyah before Jarrod suffered a heart-attack. Photo / supplied.

His left artery had lifted away from the right and become compressed, restricting blood flow and causing a heart attack.

In hospital Jarrod was sedated for three days so his brain could rest and repair.

When he woke up he was confused and he didn't recognise anyone.

"I just kept talking to him, reassuring him and telling him what had happened, he had no idea," Kelly said.

In the months before Jarrod had complained of being short of breath and tightness in his chest. Kelly didn't recognise the warning signs.

"It was only a couple of times though and I didn't think it was bad enough to go to the doctor."

She urges parents to seek medical attention for any breathing difficulties or pain or discomfort in the chest.

Fifteen-year-old Jarrod Church and mum Kelly Church in Middlemore Hospital just after Jarrod suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Photo / supplied
Fifteen-year-old Jarrod Church and mum Kelly Church in Middlemore Hospital just after Jarrod suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Photo / supplied

The past few months had been a struggle for the family but there were more and more moments to celebrate.

After hard work and daily therapies, Jarrod's smile has returned and he is walking.

And he talks of his short-term and long-term goals.

"I want to get back to school, writing, reading, seeing my friends and playing basketball," he said.

And the long term? "Playing for the NBA - and going to school in America."

He wants to follow in the footsteps of NBA shooting star Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors.

Kelly said she would not rule anything out for her son who had amazed doctors and family with his recovery.

Jarrod is living at the Acquired Brain Injury clinic in West Auckland. His older brother Jason Ahuriri is his fulltime live-in carer.

Jason said he is "constantly amazed" by his brother's attitude and determination.

"Right from the start he was open to being helped and that has helped with his recovery," Jason said.

"We are so proud of him and so thankful that he has recovered so fast."

Kelly Church with her fifteen year old son Jarrod Church. Photo / Greg Bowker
Kelly Church with her fifteen year old son Jarrod Church. Photo / Greg Bowker

His little brother still had plenty of challenges as he faces open heart surgery.

On top of that Jarrod's baby nephew Jariyah was born premature and has been in Starship Hospital with ongoing health issues.

"We are really looking forward to that day when everyone is well and out of hospital and we can take a family holiday," Kelly said.

Jarrod's friends and teachers at Papakura High School were looking forward to his return, Kelly said.

In December the school is hosting a fundraising dinner to help the Church family.

Deputy principal Kelly Peterson said the school wanted to support the popular student.

"He is such a bubbly, cheeky and outgoing boy, really popular at school and all his friends really miss him," Peterson said.

Jarrod recently visited the school to watch a basketball game and see his friends.

"Some of his friends had visited him at Middlemore and that was a real shock so it has been good for them to see how much he has improved."

Donations can be made at to the Papakura High School bank ASB bank account: 12 3031 0123146 00. In the details field put Jarrod Church donation, and add your name in the reference field.