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Defibrillator donation brings peace of mind at Carmel High
By Vince Pierri | Daily Herald Columnist

For Sharon Lentino and her daughter Mary Kate, having a new portable defibrillator on the campus of Carmel Catholic High School brings an added piece of mind.

 

Vincent Pierri | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/28/2010 12:00 AM

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It's no guarantee of safety, but having another defibrillator on the campus of Carmel Catholic High School is giving Sharon Lentino a little more piece of mind.

Lentino's daughter Mary Kate, a junior, has a condition that can potentially disrupt her heartbeat and cause a heart attack. The more defibrillators on hand, the better, says Sharon Lentino. Not only for Mary Kate, but for anyone else who might need one.

The Mundelein school received a donation of a portable defibrillator from Colleen Kausak of the Adams Night organization. The group's mission is to raise awareness and funding needed to get Automated External Defibrillators into the community.

"Adams" stands for Automatic Defibrillators Allow More Survival. But it is also the name of Kausak's son Adam, who died of a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome in 2002. Adam was 15 and a sophomore honor student at what was then Grayslake Community High School. Kausak's other son Andy also has LQTS. The family lives in Lake Villa.

Kausak met Sharon Lentino, of Libertyville, at a charity fundraiser. The two shared stories about the effects LQTS has had on their lives.

Kausak felt good about donating the $1,500 device once she found out that Both Sharon Lentino and her daughters Mary Kate and Annie all have LQTS. Annie is an 8th-grader at St. Joseph School in Libertyville.

The syndrome can create a disruption in the heart's electrical activity and can cause a sudden, uncontrollable and dangerous heart rhythm called an arrhythmia. Arrhythmias can develop for unknown reasons in people who have LQTS. Not everyone who has LQTS develops dangerous heart rhythms. However, if one does occur, it may be fatal.

The new defibrillator is the fifth on the Carmel campus, but the first portable unit. A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electrical impulse that shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm. The simple-to-use machines are credited in saving scores of lives.

Kausak's organization has placed at least 15 defibrillators in area schools and churches. And they are saving lives.

The defibrillators were used successfully at Grayslake Central High School about a year ago and at the Chain of Lakes Community Bible Church in Antioch, Kausak said.

"Some adult men were playing a pickup basketball game at the high school when one of them went into cardiac arrest," Kausak said. "In the other situation, the pastor of the church thought someone was snoring during the service only to find out the man was having a heart attack. Thankfully, the defibrillator was close by."

Sharon Lentino said using the device is simple.

"These can be used by almost anyone," Lentino said. "It's a step-by-step process that you walk right through."

Having the units on campus is a comfort for both Sharon and Mary Kate Lentino.

"It's nice to know they are around," Mary Kate Lentino said. "It makes me feel safe. And not only for me, but anyone else who might need it."

Kausak has seen her organization grow over the years.

"Back then, there were no support groups for people with this condition," Kausak said. "My husband and I prayed for other families to get involved and to raise awareness. There was a need for networking."

For more information about Adams Night, visit adamsnight.org