A. J. Caliendo survived sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in 1999. I first met him in 2003 when the University of Pittsburgh National Center for Early Defibrillation (NCED) hosted a gathering of survivors in Washington, D.C. I was proud to help launch NCED’s National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivor Network. Forty-two survivors from around the country attended, thanks to support from the Medtronic Foundation. It was truly a milestone event.
A few years later, NCED colleagues and I founded the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. In no time, A. J. became an active member. Given his experience writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and local community papers, he exceled at interviewing fellow survivors and writing their stories for our website. A. J. and his wife, Lis, also participated in our local outreach events, including our annual 5K walks in Pittsburgh. We only had to say the word and A.J. and Lis would be there, ready to help.
We lost a passionate advocate in January when A. J. passed away suddenly from causes unrelated to heart disease. His family and friends recently held a Celebration of Life in his honor—sharing stories highlighting his keen sense of humor, passion for writing and theatre, and most of all his love for his family.
In his last email to me a few months ago, A. J. said, “Mary, you have been such a good and supportive friend since we first met, and I value that above all else.” I will always treasure that message.
Rest in peace, A. J., knowing that you shared your talents and used your extra years to make the world a better place.
- Mary Newman
Read obituary here.