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Spurred by the loss of their son, Dwyer family of Syracuse donates cardiac defibrillators to Syracuse University
Spurred by the loss of their son, Dwyer family of Syracuse donates cardiac defibrillators to Syracuse UniversityApril 06, 2001Jonathan Hayjhay@syr.edu
To honor the memory of James J. Dwyer Jr., a victim of sudden cardiac death at age 31, the Dwyer family of Syracuse has donated three automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to Syracuse University in the hope that other lives may be saved. The AEDs will be placed in the University’s Risk Management Safety Department vehicles and will be available at all times on campus. Michael Ryan, administrator of the Safety Department, says the AEDs are greatly needed and appreciated. “Our Safety Department officers will have the AEDs at any large gathering–such as events at Manley Field House and the Schine Student Center, or high school events at Coyne Field–and they could mean the difference between saving or losing a life from sudden cardiac arrest,” he says. Sudden cardiac arrest affects about 400,000 to 500,000 individuals annually in the United States. The only treatment is cardiac defibrillation to restore the normal heart rhythm. While all Safety Department officers have been trained to use the AEDs, the devices are designed for use by anyone. The machines electronically guide the user through the defibrillation process and have monitors that keep them from delivering an electrical impulse to someone who isn’t in cardiac arrest. The Dwyers are determined to do what they can to avert the tragedy that happened in their family. “Jim was a healthy, physically fit young man,” says Kathleen Dwyer, Jim’s mother. “There was nothing structurally wrong with his heart. Something caused his heart to beat irregularly, ineffectively and to eventually stop. Our son needed defibrillation, and there was no AED available–very few AEDs are in public places. As a family, we refuse to assume that what is today must always be.” Ryan says SU is considering the purchase of more defibrillators to ensure that they will be available in more places on campus. The Dwyer family has also donated AEDs to LeMoyne College and is working to have the machines placed in locations throughout the city where people gather, such as at the OnCenter, Onondaga County War Memorial and Hancock International Airport. “We hope that our efforts will help the next person in a similar situation that Jim was in have a better chance of living,” Dwyer says. “As a family, we feel we have an opportunity and a responsibility to do what we can to honor his memory.”