Friday, October 06, 2006

Ruth Was Right: Defibrillator Could Have Saved Tolbert's Life

Kudos to Ruth Holladay for her persisence in pursuing the story behind the untimely death of Star news photographer Mpozi Tolbert after he collapsed in the Star's newsroom last July. The autopsy reports concludes that his cause of death was a cardiac-related death which might have been prevented if a defibrillator had been available in the newsroom. She writes:

Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew said Wednesday that the autopsy on Mpozi Tolbert, 34, shows he experienced sudden cardiac death as a result of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy.

The latter condition is genetic or is caused by environmental factors. It can be diagnosed with electrocardiograms and treated with drugs and/or an implant and/or surgery. Symptoms include shortness of breath, light-headedness, fatigue, racing heart and cardiac collapse . . .

"Can the cardiac arrest that causes sudden death be reversed?

"Brain death and permanent death start to occur in just four to six minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is reversible in most victims if it's treated within a few minutes with an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heartbeat. This process is called defibrillation. A victim's chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without defibrillation. Few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes. If someone becomes unconscious, call 9-1-1 immediately. They may be suffering from sudden cardiac arrest."

Lots of folks, including myself, were skeptical of Ruth's pursuit of this story. But she's proven that a defribillator could have made a difference for Tolbert. She's also provided a valuable public service to workers everywhere in bringing attention to this life-saving investment in the workplace.

UPDATE: The Star now has a story acknowledging the cause of Tolbert's death. No mention of the life-saving value of defribillators to respond to this rare heart condition.

1 comment:

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