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17-year-old Athlete Saved with CPR and AED

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Author name: Lee Health

Derrik Basketball Photo“My child's heart stopped that day on the court — he could have died in my arms,” said Derrick’s mom, Kim. “Derrick is alive thanks to heroes trained in CPR and the use of an AED.”

It seemed as though nothing could stop Derrick, a strong and healthy 17-year-old athlete, from running up and down the court, sinking 3-pointers and making lay-ups, until he sat down on the bench during an Oct. 24 preseason game.

After playing the entire first quarter, he subbed out for a quick break. Suddenly he could not sit up straight, and he began to lean on his teammates, making it clear that he was in desperate need of medical care.

Thinking he was suffering from a painful migraine, Kim made her way to Derrick’s side, but it quickly became clear that something else was wrong when he began to lean against her and seize.

Kim began CPR when Derrick stopped breathing, and other parents jumped into action and found an automated external defibrillator (AED). Kim then heard every mother’s worst fear coming from the AED — Derrick had no pulse.

An AED allows lifesaving measures to be performed on someone in cardiac distress by anyone, regardless of medical training. When sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs, the window to save a life becomes smaller with each passing minute, and knowledge and access to an AED can be lifesaving in cases like Derrick’s.

With the help of Project ADAM, schools and community areas are more equipped than ever with these lifesaving devices.

In a whirlwind, Derrick was brought to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida where he had surgery to place a dual chamber pacemaker in his heart. He is alive today because of specialized training in CPR and those who quickly took action with the AED.

“Our experiences at Golisano and HealthPark Medical Center were amazing,” Kim said. “From the ER, to PICU, to PEDS and then the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit, every interaction was positive. The kindness and support shown to my boys and my family went above and beyond any expectations. I will forever be grateful to the amazing nurses, doctors and staff.”

Derrick has had to give up his lifelong love of competitive sports because of his heart condition, but he has acquired a new dream — to become a doctor to help kids like him.

The Purdy family would like to thank everyone on Derrick’s healthcare team for their dedication during some of the most difficult moments of their lives. Derrick’s nurses while in the PICU, Keisy Atkinson and Jon Sprott, made a lifelong impression on their family.

Thank you to the phenomenal Physician Care Team who cared for Derrick Purdy:

  • Dr. Alfredo Vargas - Pediatric Emergency Medicine
  • Dr. Suying Lam - Pediatric Cardiology
  • Dr. Bryan Funari - Pediatric Cardiology
  • Francesca Passalacqua, APRN - Pediatric Cardiology
  • Dr. Erick Burton - Adult Cardiology
  • Dr. Roberto Monge - Pediatric Critical Care
  • Dr. Britt Stroud - Pediatric Neurology
  • Dr. Natalie Gillson - Pediatric Neurology


  • Youth Heart Screening

    To provide peace of mind to young athletes and their families, Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida offers free EKG testing to middle and high school-aged athletes.

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