Personal stories are powerful persuasive tools, not only with the public, but also with lawmakers and their staff. The American Heart Association collects stories to share with public policy makers, fellow advocates, and the public.
What is your story? Have you or a loved one been saved thanks to medical research breakthroughs? Are you a heart disease or stroke survivor? Do you have a family member who is a heart disease or stroke survivor? Every story is important. Like the amazing advocates below, please share with us your story.
On March 25, 2000, my son, Louis, played in his first high school lacrosse game. After blocking what appeared to be a routine shot with his chest, Louis took a few steps and collapsed on the field. The coaches and trainers rushed out and began to administer CPR. Paramedics arrived almost 15 minutes after Louis’ collapse. They attempted defibrillation but were too late. Louis passed away. He was 14 years old. As a result, schools in New York State are now required to have an AED and personnel trained in CPR/AED. To date 57 lives have been saved. But we can do more. Here in New York, a potentially lifesaving bill is before our representatives that calls for students to learn CPR skills and how an AED works. Won’t you join me? Karen Acompora, New York
I’m Carla Leonard and I learned firsthand the importance of CPR and AED training. I’m one of the lucky ones. As a school crisis intervention aide, I had grown to hate one part of my morning routine: bumping my head on the AED situated right near my desk. Ironically, CPR and that AED saved my life. I was 43 when I felt “a brain freeze” during the morning pledge and went into sudden cardiac arrest. The school nurse quickly started CPR and used the AED. This gave me a fighting chance at survival until EMTs arrived. I was then transported to the hospital where an implantable cardioverter defibrillator was implanted. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I went into sudden cardiac arrest and there wasn’t anyone willing to perform CPR. Imagine how many more lives could be saved if all high school students learned CPR before graduation. Carla Leonard, New York
As a teacher, I know firsthand the juggling demands that schools are facing. Skeptics may tell you that schools simply don’t have the time or money to teach CPR. How do I know schools can successfully teach CPR? I teach CPR at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, NY. Our program, which has been in place since 1994, trains students in both 7th & 10th grades in CPR. Amazingly, 16 lives have been saved because these students used their CPR skills in the real world! If our school can save 16 lives, imagine how many lives we could save if all students learned CPR before graduation? Sue Denis, New York
I remember doing jumping jacks at volleyball camp at Yorktown High School. The next thing I know, five people are standing over me, tears rolling down their cheeks. I later learned why – I went into sudden cardiac arrest. My coaches saved my life by performing CPR, getting the AED and calling 911. Turns out CPR is easy to learn. Even students my age can perform CPR. I’ve encouraged all my friends and family to learn CPR. And I’m encouraging legislators to pass the CPR in Schools bill. Kate Weigel, New York
As a paramedic, I know CPR training is vital. In my 35 years of experience, I have been able to save lives that would otherwise be lost to sudden cardiac arrest. But never have I been able to save someone when CPR hadn’t been started by a bystander on the scene prior to our arrival – not even once. CPR is critical. It buys the time needed until trained EMS providers arrive at the scene. Simple CPR performed by bystanders can keep blood flowing to your heart and brain. It can double or even triple your chance of survival. And considering that less than 8% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive to make it home from the hospital, we need more lifesavers on the streets. Bob Elling, New York
On October 5, 2009, my only child, Dominic Murray, a seemingly healthy 17 year-old, collapsed on the basketball court at Farmingdale State College during a pick-up game. After attempting a lay-up he took three steps and collapsed on the court. I was told that within minutes following his collapse, Dominic started gasping, gurgling, and experienced seizure-like motions. He was unresponsive. He had no pulse. All signs of sudden cardiac arrest. Dominic died three years and three months following the death of his father due to an unexpected massive heart attack at the age of 42. Melinda Murray, New York