Organization raises awareness about sudden cardiac arrest
Updated: November 5, 2012 10:50AM
By the time Parent Heart Watch contacted her, Martha Lopez-Anderson was ready for the organization’s help.
Lopez-Anderson and her husband lost a child to sudden cardiac arrest in 2004. About a year later, they received a call from Parent Heart Watch.
“They reached out to me at a really critical time,” Lopez-Anderson said. “When you lose a child, you seemingly think you’re the only one it’s happened to. But I knew I wasn’t alone.”
Since then, Lopez-Anderson, a Florida resident, has been actively involved in the organization and will be in Chicago this weekend for the Sports Radio 25th Anniversary Celebration benefitting Parent Heart Watch. The event is scheduled for Saturday at the Chicago Theatre.
Parent Heart Watch was founded in 2005 by four mothers following the unexpected death of a child. The organization, which is based in Glencoe, now is the national voice that educates and advocates about sudden cardiac arrest awareness. “Sudden cardiac arrest is the sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness,” according to the Mayo Clinic website
“We joined forces with them so other families wouldn’t have to suffer like we have,” said Lopez-Anderson, the board chair at Parent Heart Watch. “They made me feel like we can do something positive about this. They made me feel like we can make a difference. I wanted to be part of the solution.”
Represented in 46 states, Parent Heart Watch is a membership-based association of people who have lost children to sudden cardiac arrest, people who are living with a child with a heart condition, sudden cardiac arrest survivors, medical professionals and others who want to help the cause.
“It’s not a support group,” Lopez-Anderson said. “We are an action-driven group. We take our loss and want to make a difference.”
In its years of operation, Parent Heart Watch has placed more than 1,000 defibrillators in schools and other youth facilities, trained 15,000 people for CPR and Automated External Defibrillator use and conducted more than 20,000 heart screenings for children.
“I considered myself an informed person, and if I didn’t know about (sudden cardic arrest), surely other people didn’t know, either,” Lopez-Anderson said. “After I learned about Parent Heart Watch, I left with a sense of connection. They empowered us to take action in our own community.”