My name is MiKayla Person. I’m 14 years old and last year I learned that my school was missing something very important. It did not have an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), a portable electronic device that diagnoses potentially life-threatening cardiac problems.
Minutes can mean the difference between life and death when a student goes into cardiac arrest. A shock delivered by an AED within three to five minutes can keep the heart going until medical help can arrive. Survival rates plunge with each minute of delay.
This issue is very personal for me. I was born without a pulmonary valve and have a ventricular septal defect, which means there was a hole between the right and left pumping chambers of my heart. I have had four open-heart surgeries, the last one in April 2013.
I knew something needed to be done about getting an AED in my school, so that’s what I did. First, I contacted Project ADAM at Children’s Wisconsin Herma Heart Institute. I met Alli Thompson, the Project ADAM administrator, and we had a meeting with my school principal to discuss the next step in the process, which turned out to be fundraising.
Through my church and school family, we made enough in donations to fund the project. Next I discussed the medical side with a family friend who just happens to be a nurse. We talked about the different needs for the AED like pads and plans of action for the school, as well as other paperwork that needed to be done.
I’m happy to say that the AED has now been installed in the school and hopefully will never be used. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my community!
I was glad that I could make an impact in my community, but it can’t stop there. I am using this as a call to action for other teenagers. This is not something that is easy, but it needs to be done. You as a teenager can make a difference. Hopefully, through my small step, others can follow behind and we can make a large impact.