A Queens mother who lost her teenage son to sudden cardiac arrest has set up a foundation to teach children CPR in his memory. Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
Students at Midwood Catholic Academy are getting an important lesson in CPR from a mother on a mission.
“Anybody know what CPR is?” Melinda Murray asks a group of students.
Murray visits private schools all across the state, giving lessons in CPR and handing out life saving automated external defibrillators (AEDs). She does it honor of her son, Dominic Murray, who collapsed and died on the basketball court in school when he was just 17 years old.
"In the middle of a routine layup, his heart stopped, he collapsed. And, but of course at that time, I didn't know what sudden cardiac arrest was. I would never think that my child, a young vibrant energetic child would have a heart attack,” Murray said.
Stunned by the loss of her only child in 2009, Murray decided to turn her overwhelming grief into a new lifework and make sure no parent ever has to walk in her shoes again.
Unlike public schools in New York, private schools are not required to have pricey AEDs on hand, which can be life-saving in someone's heart suddenly stops. Murray started a not-for-profit called the Dom Heart 21 Memorial Foundation to raise money for AEDs for schools and public spaces.
"Ms. Murray donated four mannequins so we'll use them in health class. We'll put them to very good use to all this,” said Midwood Catholic Academy teacher Danielle Johnson.
"This is a great thing to teach us because you never know someone could collapse and we don't know what to do,” said student Gaheyna Paul.
"Anything could happen during any time, any place so I just feel a little more secure that we know this procedure,” said student Kuishawn Cox.
Days ago, Murray spearheaded a gala which raised big bucks for her new mission, one that she says would make her son proud.
“I want to make sure that, within my power what I can do is to ensure that a parent will be able to embrace their child at night and say ‘I’m so glad you're here’ because I wish I had that opportunity to hug Dominic and say I'm so glad that you are here,” Murray said.
To learn more on how to get an AED in your school, go to www.domheart21.org