BENEFITING: WESTPORT VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE INC
Harrison's Heart was established to help bring awareness to the importance of CPR.
Sept 14th 2011 could have been my worst day or the luckiest...It all depends on your perspective.
It was a sunny day, after school I went to rowing practice early to do a 10k, I wrote an inspirational message on the team whiteboard (more on that later), our Coach arrived and yelled at us for something, and then we ran over to Baker Ave to do hill sprints. That's the last thing I remember about September 14th. While running hill sprints my heart stopped. This is called sudden cardiac death. It happens to around 900-1000 people every year. It is extremely rare for this to happen to an adolescent or young adult and very few survive. So that was the worst part of my day, I choose to focus on what happened next and why it was my luckiest day.
When my heart stopped, I collapsed and my teammates carried me to my Coach who immediately called 911. One of my teammates remembered his summer lifeguard training and started performing CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) and continued for 4 1/2 minutes until Westport EMT's arrived and without hesitation applied an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) which sensed that my heart had stopped and with an electronic shock restarted my heart. I was stabilized at Norwalk Hospital and then Airlifted to the Yale New Haven Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where 3 days later MRI and CT scan imaging was used to create a 3D image of my heart and a rare congenital defect was diagnosed. Two weeks later I had open heart surgery to correct the defect. 4 months later I started training with my team. Now almost 2 years later and I am rowing and winning medals again.
September 14th 2011 was the luckiest day for me because everything went exactly right, immediately after everything went totally wrong and I'm alive today. My hope is that more of us become trained and aware of what to do in an emergency so someone else will have a lucky day and survive too.
Oh and the inspirational message I wrote on the whiteboard the day I collapsed was "Rowers don't stop until they end up in the hospital"...Because I was lucky, I’ve had another couple of birthdays (and will hopefully have many more) and my new message is simply "Rowers don't stop!".....