Revere student, Caleb Perkins, stresses importance of heart exams one year after AED saved him

Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 16, 2017

Given a second chance at life, 17-year-old Caleb Perkins hopes his heartfelt message to fellow teens and their parents will save other lives.

He gives presentations about sudden cardiac arrest while also stressing the importance of heart exams, CPR and knowing how to use an automated external defibrillator.

"When it happens to a young kid, especially yourself, it's just kind of eye-opening," Caleb said. "I never thought this could happen to me."

Caleb, who is a senior at Revere High School, suffered sudden cardiac arrest and lost consciousness during a track workout on March 18, 2016.

Coaches and trainers performed CPR and used an AED, saving precious seconds. EMS also shocked Caleb's heart which regained his pulse.

"God is the only reason I'm sitting here in front of you," Caleb told News 5. He just had everybody placed where they needed to be that day to save my life."

During a recent visit to Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, students listened intently as Caleb shared his compelling story.

"I was pronounced dead at the scene when they first got to me," Caleb told the class. "If you take anything out of this, CPR, AED's, and look to the person to your left and right. You could be the one that saves their life."

Caleb also volunteers for mCORE - Mobile Cardiac Overview and Risk Evaluation - a company that does heart exams.

The company said that 1 out of 100 kids has an undetected heart condition and sudden cardiac arrest is the number one killer of student athletes.

Crystal Wolf, a cardiac stenographer for mCORE, demonstrated how equipment, including ultrasound, is used to check hearts.

"We look for murmurs. We look to make sure the heart is normal size, that each chamber is normal size," Wolf said.

Kyle Deloney, a Lake Catholic a senior, had his heart examined last year and a palpitation was noticed. To be safe, he had his heart checked again last week at the high school.

"It's very important and you never know what you could find unless you do things like this and really upkeep your health," he said.

Deloney's heart checked out healthy.

In Caleb's case, doctors found scarring at the bottom of his heart and diagnosed him with cardiomyopathy.

Inside his chest, the teen now has an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) with a built-in pacemaker to monitor and regulate his heart. He has not had any health scares since his near death experience.

Caleb said doctors cleared him to return to high school sports, but he decided not to play his senior year.

"I feel like I'm in the best shape I've ever been in physically and mentally," he said. "They still don't know a year later why it happened, but health-wise everything checked out, perfect physical. My heart is in awesome shape."

The Bath Township fire department has been chosen to receive an EMS Star of Life Award for their efforts that saved Caleb. The presentation takes place May 24 at the ODOT Auditorium in Columbus.