Makayla Brownlee suffers from a rare heart condition called vasovagal syncope

By Christina Dugan
March 24, 2020 01:31 AM

American Idol encountered a scary turn of events.

During Monday’s episode, Makayla Brownlee, a 17-year-old contestant from Wellington, Kansas, suffered a seizure onstage — leaving judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie concerned for her health.

Taking the stage for her solo performance of Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow,” Brownlee seemed to become disoriented in her speech and quickly walked offstage before collapsing to the floor.

The judges were quick to react as crew members surrounded Brownlee and alerted EMTs.

“I’m going to go check on her,” Bryan said, before heading backstage.

“Give her a little space,” said Perry.

Katy Perry
ABC

After being properly evaluated, Makayla’s dad explained the reason behind his daughter’s sudden collapse.

“Makayla has a condition that is pretty rare,” Brownlee’s dad, Mark, explained to cameras.

“In seventh grade, I was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope,” Brownlee told the cameras after the incident. “It’s a heart condition that causes me to react to stress differently than other people, and it could cause a seizure.”

Added Brownee’s, “She can’t control it. She’s embarrassed, but physically, she’s 100 percent all right. This opportunity is so important for her. I’d hate to see it inhibited in any way because she’s such a good singer. She works so hard at it.”

A few hours later, Brownlee returned to the stage to a standing ovation and sang her heart out — a performance that brought Perry to tears.

Makayla Brownlee
ABC

Perry took to Twitter to share her support as well.

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After the judges commended her performance, Brownlee was eventually moved to the Top 40.

“The stress this week has definitely been a lot harder on me than anything I’ve ever gone through,” Brownlee told cameras. “There’s nothing I can do to prevent a seizure. When I’m stressed out, my body just reacts differently.”

This week, PEOPLE confirmed that Idol has shut down production over coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns.

The ABC singing competition is enacting additional precautions across its production amid the ongoing health crisis, suspending any new filming and enabling remote work for the rest of its employees, PEOPLE can confirm. Staffers are also ensuring contestants get home to their families during the health crisis.

Episodes will continue to air as scheduled until the live shows, which are set to begin in April.

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