A plan is being developed to save the lives of local student athletes following two recent deaths.
15-year-old Cascia Hall athlete Aaron Halford died during a basketball game last month. 14-year-old Cleveland Middle School athlete Shatekia Johnson died last November. Both deaths were the result of heart-related problems.
The deaths have gotten the attention of doctors and volunteers, who say a medical device, might help avert these kinds of tragedies in the future. It's called an automated external defibrillator. It's like the kind you see on the medical TV shows. But the difference, as News on Six reporter Steve Berg reports, is that you don't have to be a doctor to use it.
"It's as simple as it can be." Charlie Wooten with the American Red Cross says there are documented cases where people with no training at all have saved a life with the A.E.D, or automated external defibrillator. "They grabbed the unit off the wall-case, ran to the victim, knew enough to turn the machine on and then just did what it said from there. They really are as close to foolproof as you can get."
Dr. Jim Coman with the Oklahoma Heart Institute says like everyone, they were disturbed by the recent heart-related deaths of two high-school athletes. So, the institute is taking steps to donate 26 A.E.D.'s, enough for every public and private high school in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Jenks, and Union. They say the survival rate "with" defibrillation is 80%. Without it, it drops to just 5%. "It's a dramatic difference, we lose about 10% chance of survival for every minute that passes without defibrillation."
Of course, no one knows for sure what would have happened if these machines had been on hand in these recent incidents. But what they do know is that they work for any kind of heart problem. And with its sensors, the machine will not shock a heart rhythm that does not need to be shocked. "So if a patient collapses from a seizure or some other problem that is not a true cardiac arrest, the device will cause no harm." But it could do a lot of good.
The Institute has provided the initial money for the program. But they still need more. If you'd like to donate, you can CALL 592-0999 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org