Adam Greenlee, Jr., 11, was the picture of health and had never exhibited any medical concerns. But everything changed on January 7th, 2014. It started out just like every other day for Adam, then a sixth grader at Bedford Middle School in Westport, Connecticut. His mom, René, dropped him off at school. His first period class that day was gym, which started out with a light jog as a warm-up exercise. Adam, who was feeling fine that morning and had even been joking with his brother and sister on the car ride to school, took one step and collapsed face first. No one was certain exactly what had happened, but he was unresponsive and his condition was deteriorating rapidly. In less than one minute, he had gone into sudden cardiac arrest.
School nurses, administrative staff and first responders worked together, promptly giving CPR and using the school's automated external defibrillator (AED) to save Adam's life. The extraordinary care continued at Yale New Haven Hospital, where Adam was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, a condition in which the lower chambers of the heart thicken or harden. Four days later, he had surgery to insert an implantable cardioverter defibrillator into his chest to protect him from future life-threatening events.
Now, a year later, Adam is back doing many of the things that he enjoys. While he's restricted from certain team sports, he has found many ways to remain active and engaged. And, he recently had an opportunity to meet his basketball heroes, the Indiana Hoosiers, when they played at Madison Square Garden. While he may not be able to continue playing basketball competitively, Adam hopes to keep involved in the sport, one way or another, perhaps, in the future, through coaching.
But for now, his primary goal is to help save other lives. "The past year has been filled with challenges I never thought I would have to face," said Adam, Jr. "Since my sudden cardiac arrest on January 7, 2014, there is no doubt my life has changed. What I really want to do now is to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and the need for more AEDs to be available. Through donations, the AG Dream On Foundation will help make more AEDs available to make sure more people get a second chance to chase their dreams, just like I am getting. That is why we are using the phrase “Dream On!"--so kids like me and others who suffer sudden cardiac arrest can continue to Dream On!"
His parents could not agree more. "The past year has been a challenging one to say the least," said Adam Greenlee, Sr. "Our lives changed forever on January 7, 2014. We are now part of the lucky community of survivors. Adam survived his SCA because of the tremendous care he received from bystanders and first responders. On a day when a million things went wrong, about six things had to go absolutely perfectly to save our son's life. Bystander action with CPR and the use of an AED are the reasons he is with us today.
"We are incredibly blessed that he received such great care. The statistics regarding SCA survival rates are staggering. To think that Adam Jr. is in the 10 percent of survivors is amazing in itself, but the fact that 90 percent of the individuals in the United States who suffer an SCA die is tragic. Our family is committed to raising awareness about SCA and also raising funds to make more AEDs available to youth sports teams and other organizations. We’ll do this by partnering The Adam Greenlee Foundation with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation and doing all we can to tell Adam Jr’s wonderful success story."
To donate to the Adam Greenlee Foundation Fund, click here.