Trades specialist Gary Walimaa installs the AED in West Science
Hearts with donors' names on the wall
The NMU Surgical Technology student organization raised funds to purchase an AED that was installed outside the departmental lab in West Science this week. The students were motivated to take action because of their classmate, Kelin Baar of Greenville. The former athlete was diagnosed in 2008 with an enlarged heart, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. When she appeared ill in a class last semester, instructor Richard Lopez and fellow students learned of her condition and realized there was no AED close by if someone in her situation ever needed it. So they set out to change that.
“My doctor noticed a heart murmur during a regular appointment and looked into it further to make the diagnosis,” Baar said. “I was fortunate because it can be a silent disease and many aren’t diagnosed until after a medical emergency.
"When they found out about my heart condition, the Surgical Tech Club decided to show support by raising money for an AED. They weren't aware that I’m lucky enough to have a defibrillator and pacemaker. But not everyone is that lucky and the effort behind the AED is so people who have undiagnosed heart conditions can be saved.”
The Surgical Technology Club began by holding a local can and bottle drive and placing decorated change jars in a few community locations. Its most successful fundraising effort was a letter-writing campaign.
“Our families wanted to get involved, but many live downstate,” said President Elisabeth Geneseo of Auburn. “So we wrote a formal letter with instructions for donating and asked for the addresses of other relatives and friends who might be interested in helping. We put the names of donors on hearts and they’re displayed on the wall outside the surgical tech lab now.”
The cause struck a personal note with Geneseo. Her grandma had raised money to install an AED in the church she belonged to and the first person to benefit from its use was her husband, Geneseo’s grandpa.
The Surgical Technology Club raised $2,088, more than enough for the AED. The remainder will be donated to Relay for Life in honor of an NMU instructor who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I’m really proud of the hard work the students put in to this project and the fact they exceeded their fundraising goal,” said Lopez. “Hopefully we’ll never have to put the AED to use, but we all feel better knowing there’s one right outside the door.”
NMU Public Safety and Police Services had added the device to an order for about 20 AEDs to install elsewhere on campus and was reimbursed by the Surgical Technology Club for the cost. The club may install a plaque near the AED they purchased to commemorate the effort.