Monday, November 1, 1999

Automated External Defibrillator Saves Young Athlete's Life: Davis Nwankwo Released From Hospital

NASHVILLE, Tenn., March 9 (AScribe Newswire) -- The quick actions of an athletic trainer and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) saved the life of Vanderbilt basketball student-athlete Davis Nwankwo (Nah-WONK-wo), said the team physician.

Nwankwo, a 19-year-old red-shirt freshman from College Park, Maryland, was released today from Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He could possibly sit on the Vanderbilt bench this evening when the Commodores play Auburn in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Nashville.

Nwankwo collapsed approximately 15 minutes into practice when he suffered cardiac arrest on Monday at Memorial Gymnasium. Athletic trainer Mike Meyer was at his side immediately and initially found him to be breathing with a pulse.

"Shortly after his collapse he stopped breathing and a pulse could not be detected," explained Andrew Gregory, M.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedics and Pediatrics and team physician for Vanderbilt Basketball. "A student trainer had gone to get the automatic defibrillator. The defibrillator indicated a shock was necessary and one shock was delivered by Meyer."

That life-saving shock restored Nwankwo's heartbeat, and two rescue breaths were given by Meyer. Nwankwo then began breathing on his own.

Vanderbilt University Police responded within one minute of the 911 call for help, and Metro Nashville Fire Department paramedics were on the scene within six minutes. He was quickly transported to Vanderbilt's Emergency Department.

"Within two minutes of his heart stopping he was administered the life-saving care that he desperately needed," Gregory said. "The quick actions of Mike Meyer, the emergency responders and the Vanderbilt health care providers saved this young man's life."

Nwankwo's father, Adam, expressed his gratitude to those who saved his son's life.
"Davis is alive today all because of trainer Mike Meyer," Adam said. "There really are no words or anything that we can do to thank him enough."

Gregory said the incident revealed that Nwankwo suffered from an enlarged heart, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
"It is unfortunately the end of his basketball career," Gregory said.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings said he was happy Davis has been released from the hospital.
"While we are extremely disappointed that this means the end of Davis' playing career, we're very grateful that the prognosis for the rest of his life is good," Stallings said. "Mike Meyer is truly a hero. He single-handedly saved the life of Davis."

"Davis is a valuable member of our Vanderbilt family," said Brock Williams, assistant vice chancellor and director of Sports Operations. "We will look after him and work out the details of his education with his family."
The 6-foot-10 forward has appeared in 23 games this season, scoring 12 points and grabbing 30 rebounds in a reserve role.

Dan Roden, M.D., professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, is one of the physicians who cared for Nwankwo and explained that his heart condition is genetic, and is the number one cause of sudden death in athletes.
"Davis would not be alive today had it not been for the quick action of trainer Mike Meyer, and the fact that an AED was readily available," Roden said. "His case is a great example of the importance of widespread use of AEDs in public places."

Nwankwo's attending physician, David Slosky, M.D., an assistant professor in the Cardiovascular Medicine Division, said the prognosis for Davis is good.

"He's a very lucky man," Slosky said. "The AED, the people, and the quick proximity to the hospital made a positive difference in the outcome of this incident."

Kim Lawson, deputy chief of the Nashville Fire Department, agreed, adding "AEDs prove their value every day. A countywide Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) program, coordinated by the Nashville Fire Department, encourages people to learn CPR, as well as the placement of AEDs in public places. This is a clear example of how an AED installation made a difference."

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John Howser or Jerry Jones, Vanderbilt Medical Center, 615-322-4747
Andre Foushee, Vanderbilt Media Relations, 615-343-1847 or 615-268-5534
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