Calif. Mother Pushes For Defibrillators in Schools
Nov. 26--A MOTHER IN Tiburon is pushing her daughters' school district to install electronic medical devices after the girls were diagnosed with a rare heart condition they inherited from their late father.
Hyla Molander's husband, Erik Grieve died of unexpected heart failure in 2003, and doctors discovered he had Brugada syndrome, a genetic condition that causes an abnormal heartbeat.
Earlier this year, nine years after their father's death, the couple's two daughters were diagnosed with the same condition.
"I was a wreck, a total wreck," Molander said of receiving the diagnoses.
Often undetected because of a lack of symptoms, Brugada syndrome is caused by a defect in the cells that trigger heartbeats. It can cause the heart to beat abnormally, which can cause fainting or sudden cardiac arrest.
Molander has purchased automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, which use electricity to restore a normal heartbeat. Her daughters, Tatiana and Keira Grieve Oliver, bring the devices to Bel Aire Elementary every day.
Defibrillators, which typically cost about $1,500 to $2,000, can be effective in saving lives if used in the first few minutes of a cardiac episode and Molander said she wants to extend the same protection to everyone in the Reed Union School District.
"It's not just about my girls," she said. "It's about all the other kids who don't know they have a condition. It's about the adults
who are volunteering constantly, the volunteers and teachers.
"Having defibrillators in schools should be a no-brainer," she said.
Molander has met with Superintendent Steven Herzog, but so far the district has not indicated it will install defibrillators in the schools. Herzog was travelling Thanksgiving week and could not be reached for comment.
School board President Howard Block said he is aware of Molander's request but there have been no board discussions of AEDs. He said he does not have enough information to take a position on whether the devices should be installed.
"It's a somewhat complex issues, as many things are that deal with kids and medical conditions, and would best be discussed as part of our (school board) agenda," he said. "There would be a great opportunity for a pretty healthy and thorough discussion of this."
Susan Lambe Peitz, a school board member who is an emergency room doctor at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, said she also does not have enough information to make a decision.
She said that for now, she feels reassured that Tatiana and Keira at least have access to their own AEDs.
"If their heart goes into an unusual rhythm, the sooner they get hooked up to that defibrillator the better chance they have of surviving," she said.
Molander said she would continue to press officials to install the devices throughout the district.
"The devastation that goes on when there is a sudden death that goes on with children, it shakes up the entire community," she said.
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Copyright 2012 - The Marin Independent Journal, Novato, Calif.