When used immediately, an AED can reverse sudden cardiac arrest and save lives. Kayla’s Angels is a new partnership in West Des Moines with the aim of increasing the number of defibrillators available at schools and sports facilities. Additionally, Kayla’s Angels partners will provide training to interested parties, including officials and administrators in local schools and sports leagues.
Kayla’s Angels is named for Kayla Donahe, who at the age of 16 unexpectedly went into cardiac arrest during a soccer game in May 2009. An AED was not immediately available to assist Kayla. Her life was saved by quick-acting bystanders and coaches who performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived.
In May 2009, Kayla Donahe collapsed on the field during a girls' soccer game between Valley High School and Dowling High School. Parents and coaches rushed to Kayla’s side and immediately performed CPR until emergency medical personnel arrived. The quick efforts ultimately saved Kayla’s life, even though she lacked a pulse for more than twenty-five minutes and during that period was clinically dead.
"I feel like one of the luckiest teenage girls alive," Kayla says. "I truly appreciate those who responded so quickly to me. Having been CPR/AED trained and certified myself through school prior to my arrest, I now know first-hand on the receiving end, the importance of AEDs and this life-saving training. I hope that my story will help people realize just how important AEDs really are."
Had an Automated External Defibrillator been immediately available, Kayla could have been revived prior to emergency medical personnel arriving. As it was, Kayla did not receive her first shock until nine minutes after collapsing, and it took several additional shocks and continuous CPR to revive her. Even though Kayla was saved, the inability to deliver the initial shock within five minutes is a likely contributor to the result of her heart not functioning normally.
"We are very thankful for Kayla’s outcome as even though CPR was started rather quickly, the odds for survival were against her," says Kayla’s mother, Georgie. "Knowing now that an AED on-site could have revived her almost immediately has encouraged us to be advocates."
"Our goal is not only to be instrumental in the placement of AEDs where they are needed, but to also increase the awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and encourage everyone to become CPR/AED trained. Together, as a community, we can make an impact and increase the rate of survival from sudden cardiac arrest."
After Kayla’s recovery, the Donahe family gave birth to the Kayla’s Angels concept. The goal of the partnership is to place AEDs in schools and sports facilities to potentially save the lives of children, student athletes and visitors. The partnership is now actively identifying sports and play fields without current access to defibrillation, working to supply those venues with an AED, and training coaches, parents and other interested community members in the use of the machines.
Partners in Kayla’s Angels include:
• The Donahe family is lending support and assistance and working with West Des Moines Schools
administration to optimize placement of the devices.
• West Des Moines EMS is working with sports facilities and their volunteers and area schools to train
people on use of the devices.
• Iowa Health Cardiology and Iowa Health – Des Moines are providing financial support to purchase the
initial two AEDs for West Des Moines plus additional financial and administrative support.
• Iowa AED Access for All is a 501(c)3 organization located in Ankeny and is providing promotion and
dedicated fundraising support.
• Cardiac Science is a national manufacturer and distributor of AEDs and is providing the devices to
Kayla’s Angels at a non-profit rate.
ABOUT AUTOMATED EXTERNAL DEFIBRILLATORS
AND SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST
Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) are an effective first line of care for those who experience sudden cardiac arrest. The units cost more than $1,500 each and include a computerized voice prompt system to advise first-line rescuers in delivering an electrical shock to the victim’s heart in order to restore a normal heart rhythm.
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing nearly 300,000 people each year, more than the total death rate for breast cancer, lung cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined.
During SCA, heart function ceases abruptly and without warning. When this occurs, the heart is no longer able to pump blood to the rest of the body, and in more than 90% of victims, death occurs. SCA is often erroneously referred to as a "massive heart attack."
SCA is an electrical problem, whereby a disruption in normal rhythm prevents the heart from pumping blood to the brain and vital organs. There is an immediate cessation of the heart. In most cases, there are no warning signs or symptoms. In some cases, a heart attack – which results from a blockage in the arteries – may lead to a sudden cardiac arrest event.
When someone collapses from SCA, immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) are essential for any chance of recovery. The AED analyzes the heart rhythm of the victim, and if necessary, a computerized command will instruct the user to press a button to deliver an appropriate shock to restore the normal operation of the heart. These devices are failsafe and will not cause injury to the user, nor will they deliver a shock if none is needed.
For patients in “ventricular fibrillation”, studies show that if early defibrillation is provided within the first minute, the odds are 90 percent that the victim’s life can be saved. After that, the rate of survival drops ten percent with every minute; as many as 30 to 50 percent would likely survive if CPR and AEDs were used within five minutes of collapse.
Many heart failure patients, who have either suffered an SCA or are at risk, have surgery to implant a small device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD. ICDs are designed to recognize certain types of arrhythmias and correct them with a shock. Ninety five percent of lethal ventricular arrhythmias were shown to be effectively terminated by ICDs.
OPPORTUNITIES TO SUPPORT KAYLA’S ANGELS
Community members can support the Kayla’s Angels effort through designated donations to AED Access for All (aedaccessforall.org) or through the purchase of Kayla’s Angels t-shirts.
Only black t-shirts are available online and feature the Kayla’s Angels logo in red and white. Each t-shirt requires a $12.00 donation and $5.00 for shipping.
"Every minute a victim is down, their chance of survival is reduced by 10%," says Mary Tappe of AED Access for All. "Time is of the essence in the case of sudden cardiac arrest and that is why we are so passionate about getting AEDs placed in everywhere we work, play and pray! My life was saved by an AED when I had a sudden cardiac arrest in May of 2004 while at work in West Des Moines."
"This is technology that is inexpensive, easy-to-use and life-saving. Our hope is that Kayla’s story will increase awareness of the value of AEDs and inspire communities to increase their availability."
Designated donations to Kayla's Angels can be made using the button below.