May 20, 2010, started out like many mornings in Ginnie Gick’s household. Ginnie was making breakfast for her three kids. Her husband Dan, who happened to be running late that morning, was gathering his things and getting ready to leave for work.
That morning changed Ginnie’s life forever.
While searching through her pantry, Ginnie suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. After calling 911, Dan performed CPR and was able to keep blood (and therefore oxygen) circulating through her body until an ambulance arrived to treat her with a defibrillator and rush her to the hospital.
“If he hadn’t been there,” says Ginnie. “I wouldn’t be here.”
Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death in the US, and only about 1 of every 10 people who experience this devastating event outside a hospital survive. Importantly, however, many people who have a sudden cardiac arrest CAN survive if they receive immediate CPR and are treated quickly with a defibrillator.
After her sudden cardiac arrest, Ginnie immersed herself in learning more about sudden cardiac arrest, and became an active member of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) You’re the Cure network. Among her long list of contributions to AHA’s mission, Ginnie was the top fundraiser at the 2010 Howard County Maryland Heart Walk, she lobbied Congress in 2013 to support medical research funding for the National Institute of Health, and she has served on the Silent Auction Committee for the Howard County Heart Ball for the past 5 years.
Ginnie has also become a vocal advocate for CPR training in schools in Maryland. In 2014, Ginnie lobbied alongside the American Heart Association to successfully pass Breanna’s Law, which made CPR training a requirement for high school graduation in Maryland. Speaking from her personal experience, Ginnie says, “We live in a time of such important advances in medical research and technology. But when you’re having a sudden cardiac arrest, none of that matters if you aren’t immediately given CPR.”
Although Ginnie is still here today to tell her story, many other sudden cardiac arrest victims are not. Sadly a few years ago, Ginnie’s oldest brother had a sudden cardiac arrest and did not survive. After his death, Ginnie began genetic counseling, and discovered that she and other members of her family have a genetic mutation that significantly increases their risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Having this information has motivated Ginnie and her family to take steps to better prepare themselves should they experience sudden cardiac arrest in the future.
Working with You’re the Cure has enabled Ginnie to increase awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, raise funding for medical research, and advocate for policies to increase CPR training. “I am grateful for the opportunity to make sure people are prepared and able to act if something happens,” says Ginnie.
We are so thankful for Ginnie’s amazing contributions!
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<Special thanks to You’re the Cure intern and advocate Hannah Jones, for help developing this story>