Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Don Cherry unveils defibrillator at Hockey Hall of Fame in memory of 11 year old Chase McEachern

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario hopes this will spur government to take the lead on adopting Bill 41

TORONTO, February 15, 2011 /Canada NewsWire/ - Today, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and hockey legend Don Cherry unveiled a life-saving defibrillator at the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was installed in memory of Chase McEachern, an 11-year old boy who passionately advocated for AEDs in public places, before he died of a cardiac arrest in 2006.

In 2005, Chase was diagnosed with a condition known as atrial flutter - when the heart beats hundreds of times a minute. After hearing that hockey greats Jiri Fischer collapsed and Mario Lemieux retired because of irregular heartbeats like his, Chase decided to start a campaign to make AEDs mandatory in hockey arenas and schools everywhere. Chase wrote Don Cherry a letter, asking for his support.

Sadly, on February 9, 2006 before the campaign had a chance to get off the ground, Chase collapsed during gym class, and died a few days later. Working with his family, the Foundation established the Heart and Stroke Chase McEachern Tribute Fund to continue the work that Chase began.

"The McEachern family would like to thank Don Cherry for helping to get out Chase's message of the need for defibrillators in public places, especially arenas and schools," said Dorothy McEachern, Chase's mother. "By making Chase's letter to Don Cherry public on his radio show and Hockey Night in Canada, Mr. Cherry certainly helped achieve a greater awareness of heart conditions among children."

"During the past 5 years since Chase's death, the Chase McEachern Tribute Fund in conjunction with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario has been able to place over 2700 defibrillators in arenas, schools and recreation centres. We are truly grateful," she added.

Each year, approximately 7,000 Ontarians will experience a cardiac arrest with up to 85% of occurring at home or in public places. For every minute that passes without help, a person's chance of surviving drops by 7% to 10%. Research indicates that having an AED at hand is imperative, as defibrillation, when used in conjunction with CPR in the first few minutes can dramatically improve cardiac arrest survival rates by more than 75%.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario is also a strong supporter and advocate of Bill 41, a private member's bill introduced by MPP Ted McMeekin, The Defibrillator Access Act. If passed, Bill 41 would be the first of its kind in Canada requiring AEDs be installed in public spaces which could include schools, fitness facilities and hockey arenas and would be a fitting tribute to Chase's dream of seeing AED's more widely available in the province of Ontario.

"We are hoping that Chase's story will be the catalyst to help pass legislation that could have saved the life of Chase McEachern and numerous others who suffer from similar conditions," said Laura Syron, Vice President, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario.

The Bill has passed a first and second reading unanimously in May 2010. Since then the Standing Committee on Justice Policy has not met to consider the bill. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario urges the government to pick up this private member's bill and adopt it as legislation.

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a volunteer-based health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

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