Sunday, July 31, 2016

Gift for and from the heart

When you love someone, you would do anything for them. But when your loved one passes, I realized you could still do something for them in their memory. I never suspected I’d do something like this, but when the opportunity presented itself as an answer to my prayers, I purchased an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) in loving memory of my Mom for my church community.

Ginger Rae Dunbar poses by the AED she purchased in loving memory of her mother at her Delaware County church. 
My family joined my pastor and church leaders who unveiled the AED in July 2015. My church deacon said to me, “A life is gone, yet lives will be saved. What an amazing gift and what an amazing person you are.” The glory is God's.

It’s the most expensive gift I’ve bought that I hope never needs to get used. Losing someone is more costly than any dollar amount. When I told my sisters about the donation, they also wanted to contribute. We all donated money for new first-aid kits in our mom’s memory. It reflected the amazing relationship we all shared with her.

It’s important to have an AED available, if God forbid it’s ever needed. A few first-responders noted that they often responded to cardiac arrest emergencies in churches.

I wanted give back to the place that gave so much to me and my family during our most difficult times when we lost Mom in 2014. The support from the Delaware County congregation and messages by my pastor gave me hope. In a sense, his sermons revived my life just as an AED could do – giving someone hope and a second chance to do more in life. My second chance led me to the fire service to help others.



Something I learned as a journalist during several interviews with family members who grieved their loss is that it is possible to take your pain and turn it into something good.

I’ve written about donations of AEDs. Some donations come after a tragic experience and loss, while others are donated in proactive manners in case of an emergency. At one award ceremony I reported on, someone who was revived by the deployment of an AED said God used his near-death experience to call others to service. Personally I know God called me to serve. I reported on that story a week before my fire company held its annual CPR training, which was the first official training I received to become certified.

The concept of CPR changed since I learned it in high school health classes, with the knowledge that performing chest compressions is the most important. After seeing a loved one go into cardiac arrest and be revived by first-responders, I decided then to learn more about performing CPR.

Between firefighting and journalism, I have learned that AEDs increase the chances of survival for children and adults in sudden cardiac arrest. According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended to use an AED within two or three minutes of the victim going into sudden cardiac arrest. AEDs are used to re-establish a normal heart rhythm. According to the American Heart Association, a victim’s chance of survival decreases by up to 10 percent for every minute that passes without defibrillation. It further says that when CPR only is performed prior to the arrival of EMT’s, there is a less than 5 percent chance of survival. When an AED is used, the chance of survival increases to at least 74 percent.

“The leading cause of death among school-age children is sudden cardiac arrest,” said Steven Silva, president of Aidan’s Heart Foundation. His son Aidan died at 7 from sudden cardiac arrest in 2010.

I reported on their cause several times, including when they donated an AED to a Downingtown park. They have financially supported the installation of more than 30 AEDs in Chester County schools and youth athletic fields, according to the organization.

My church leaders corresponded with Aidan’s Heart Foundation about AEDs to purchase one with adult and pediatric pads.

For more information or to donate, visit www.aidansheart.org.

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