Community members, AED save man’s life at Brandywine game
Shawn White reunited with those who came to his aid and medical team at LVH to thank them
Community members assisted Shawn White of Bernville after he suffered sudden cardiac arrest at his daughter’s basketball game on Feb. 10 in Topton.
White was attending a basketball tournament to watch and cheer for his daughter, Natane, at Brandywine Heights Middle School.
Previously diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, an irregular, often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow, White wasn’t feeling well throughout the game. When it ended, he was headed outside to get some air but had to stop and sit in a chair in the hallway. Fearing the worst, White asked his wife who was nearby to call 911. The last thing he remembered was he passed out.
“I thought it was the A-fib at first,” White said, “but this was 10 times worse.”
Before passing out White said he began having tightness in his chest and especially in his jaw.
Fortunately for him, Melissa Hahn, an emergency room nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, who also happened to be at the game, was nearby and determined he did not have a pulse. But this was only the beginning of the team effort to help White, who was in sudden cardiac arrest.
Others pitched in, too. Kerry Snyder, a teacher at Oley Middle School, and a basketball coach, quickly began doing hands-only CPR. He knew from the classes he takes each year as a coach
that the most important thing was to begin compressions. Ironically, this wasn’t the first time Snyder had to do CPR. Years earlier, his brother had died from a heart attack while Snyder was administering CPR to him.
Amanda Potteiger, the wife of Brandywine Heights Area School District Superintendent Andrew Potteiger, was the organizer of the basketball tournament and immediately located the automated external defibrillator (AED) kept at the school for emergencies like this and brought it to White’s aid.
That’s when Shawn Habakus, a local dentist jumped in. Using the AED, he shocked White back into normal heart rhythm as Topton EMS arrived on the scene.
White was transported to the Lehigh Valley Heart
Institute at LVH-Cedar Crest in Allentown where he received three stents and an S-ICD under the care of another team led by J. Patrick Kleaveland, MD, cardiologist, and fellow cardiologist Nghia Hoang, DO.
The S-ICD System is a Subcutaneous (under the skin) Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator for people who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Unlike a transvenous ICD, in which leads are fed into the heart through a vein and attached to the heart wall, which raises the risk of complications, the electrodes of the S-ICD are placed just under the skin and not in the heart, leaving the heart and veins untouched and intact.
White left the hospital six days later.
“I’m feeling real good,” he said. “I’m still just a little sore from the chest compressions.”
Since he works in construction, White hopes to recover from the chest soreness
before he returns to his job. But he has been able to attend all of his daughter’s basketball games since he left the hospital.
However, the impact of White’s episode runs even deeper. As a result of the incident, superintendent Potteiger has changed the signage to call even more attention to the location of the school’s AEDs. He also added location notes inside the AEDs to help people who might be on the phone with first responders know the address and location of the incident on school property.
“That was a big change for us,” Potteiger said. “Getting information to emergency responders was a quick change we could make. It’s something we probably never would have thought of.”
For more information about Lehigh Valley Health Network, visit lvhn.org and follow on facebook.com/ LVHealthNetwork and twitter.com/LVHN.
Community members assisted Shawn White (center, grey shirt) when the Bernville man suffered sudden cardiac arrest at his daughter’s basketball game on Feb. 10 in Topton. Pictured are Kerry Snyder (far left), a teacher at Oley Middle School, White’s daughter Abbey, Shawn Habakus, a local dentist, White’s daughter Natane, his wife Michele and and Melissa Hahn, ER nurse at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. Today White was reunited with those who came to his aid and with the medical team that cared for him at LVH to thank them for helping to save his life. Clinicians also stressed the importance of being familiar with hands-on CPR and with having automated external defibrillators (AED) available in public places like schools.