Mother trains students, staff on CPR, AED following son's death from cardiac arrest

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A mother in New York City who lost her son is turning her grief into advocacy.

"When I found out what happened to my child could have been prevented, I didn't want that to happen to another child," said Melinda Murray-Nyack, American Heart Association Volunteer.

She's trained more than 14,000 people on how to do CPR, including staff and students at the Trey Whitfield School in Brooklyn.

"Three lives have been saved. Two of those have been during COVID," Murray-Nyack said.

Her 17-year-old son Dominic died after experiencing sudden cardiac arrest while playing a pickup basketball game in 2009.

"He collapsed on the court. Kids were around. Kids his own age. They didn't know what to do right away," she said.

An autopsy later revealed Dominic had a congenital heart defect.

"Dominic was diagnosed healthy at every wellness child visit, he passed every pre-participation sports physical," Murray-Nyack said.

She says screening is key.

That's why she's working with New York State legislators to pass the Dominic Murray Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act.

"That's to educate parents on the signs and symptoms," Murray-Nyack said.

The Brooklyn native also helped pass a 2015 state law requiring high school students to learn CPR and AED training before graduation.

Now, she's taking it a step further by teaching elementary school students.

"I've learned it before in summer camp, but I think it's good to learn it again so I can refresh my memory," said Brooklyn Jack, an 8th Grade Student.

Compared to white children, Black children are 41% less likely to receive bystander CPR. Hispanic children are 22% less likely.

That's according to the American Heart Association.

It's just one of the reasons this partnership was formed.

The school's founder lost his own son to drowning.

"If someone was around to resuscitate my son, he'd probably be alive today," said A.B. Whitfield, Co-founder, Trey Whitfield School.

As for Dominic, "He's still here," his mother said. "He's the drive, the push."

He's Murray-Nyack's motivation to prevent another tragedy.

Murray-Nyack is the founder and president of the Dominic Murray 21 Memorial Foundation. For more information, please visit https://www.domheart21.org/.

For more information on the American Heart Association, please visit https://www.heart.org/en/affiliates/new-york/new-york-city.

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