Gregory Moyer’s parents waited 15 years to mark his grave with a headstone.
During that time, John and Rachel Moyer of Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pennsylvania, worked with schools and legislatures from Maine to Hawaii to communicate the importance of making automated external defibrillators (AEDs) available in schools.
They established the Gregory W. Moyer Defibrillator Fund (www.gregaed.org) in memory of their son, who died from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) Dec. 2, 2000. Gregory had been playing in a high school basketball game and collapsed without warning during halftime. The school did not have an AED on the premises, and the ambulance took nearly 30 minutes to arrive with an AED. Rescue workers restarted his heart, but it was too late. Gregory was transported to the nearest hospital, 20 minutes away, where he died.
According to the American Heart Association, 326,000 people a year die from sudden cardiac arrest. More than 6,000 of them are, like Gregory Moyer, under the age of 18.
Since its inception, the Gregory W. Moyer Defibrillator Fund has donated more than 2,000 defibrillators to schools and public agencies and partnered with organizations and business to have more AEDs placed. Rachel Moyer said that the foundation has trained more than 20,000 people in AED use.
Cardiac Science AED specialists have worked with the Moyers on many of these initiatives. A day after the 15th anniversary of Gregory’s death, Rachel Moyer delivered Cardiac Science Powerheart G5 AEDs to St. Jane Frances de Chantal School in Wilson, Pennsylvania.
Thanks to the efforts of the Moyers and other AED advocates, states including Pennsylvania and New York have passed laws requiring AEDs in schools. According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation in Pittsburgh, 27 states now require defibrillators in at least some of their schools,
Sudden cardiac arrest strikes without warning, and can be the first and only indication of an undiagnosed heart condition. Gregory had passed three sports physicals in the year that he died, but doctors had missed the signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (in laymen’s terms, an enlarged heart).
The Moyers’ original goal had been to see AED requirements for schools become law in all 50 states before placing a headstone on Gregory’s grave. However, the task has turned out to be greater than they had imagined.
“After 15 years, we recognize Gregory needs a headstone,” Rachel Moyer told The Morning Call news site, adding, “This doesn’t mean we are giving up.”