Eleven year-old Chase McEachern left us all too soon. This promising young hockey player died of a cardiac arrest in 2006, but not before he passionately advocated for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be located in all public places. He was just beginning to ramp up his campaign when, on Feb. 9, he collapsed during gym class and was rushed to hospital, where doctors learned he had suffered severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen. Six days later, his parents, John and Dorothy McEachern, made the incredibly difficult decision to take him off the respirator
Here’s a little information about this amazing young man: At the age of five, as a centre for his Barrie, Ontario minor hockey team, he scored a whopping 130 goals. In October, 2005, after being injured playing a pick-up football game at school, he went to emergency where the doctors happened to discover his heart was beating fast – up to 150 times a minute – even though he was sitting in bed, a condition later diagnosed as an atrial flutter.
That night, he went by air ambulance to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto and the next day underwent a cardiovert, in which doctors returned his heart rhythm back to normal with a small electric pulse while Chase was under a general anesthetic. It was successful and Chase went back to school and continued playing hockey, but this time, under doctors’ orders, wearing a heart monitor. During practice, however, Chase’s heart would sometimes beat up to 320 times a minute.
After hearing that hockey greats Jiri Fischer collapsed and Mario Lemieux retired because of irregular heart beats like his, Chase decided to start a campaign to make AEDs mandatory in hockey arenas and schools everywhere because, as his mother, Dorothy, says, “He realized that heart problems didn’t just affect older people.” Chase even went so far as to write TV hockey commentator Don Cherry a letter, asking for his support, which he gladly gave Chase, and in doing so brought a greater awareness of heart conditions among children.
To date, Chase’s dream continues with more than 2,700 units installed, and 27 lives saved.
If you are interested making a donation to the Chase McEachern Tribute Fund, please click here: https://secure.heartandstroke.ca/site/c.pvI3IeNWJwE/b.4701019/k.AFD0/Chase_McEachern_Tribute_Fund/apps/ka/sd/donor.asp?c=pvI3IeNWJwE&b=4701019&en=klJ1J6NLIhKVK3OQLkKQI4MOLhJ5KoP3IqK6IfOPLhK0KaPTKsKdE