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AED saves player’s life during football game

Tyler Free, Dr. Charles Gaymes, and Laura Kelly pose for picture in an exam room.
Laura Kelly, Tyler Free & Dr. Charles Gaymes
Today Tyler Free is a healthy 23-year-old, thanks to the quick use of an automatic external defibrillator when his heart stopped beating during a ninth-grade football game.

A wide receiver for the Ocean Springs Greyhounds, Free was running down the field when he died, said his mother, Shannon Free.

“For what seemed like an hour, I waited with the support of our Greyhound family for some kind of positive response from the field,” she said in an interview with the American Heart Association. “On that Monday night, Oct. 7, 2013, my son – a healthy, athletic, 15-year-old athlete – died from sudden death cardiac arrest. His life was saved by the trained, attentive individuals by means of CPR and by administering an AED device to shock his heart and revive him.”

Tyler was flown from USA Health Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, to Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson, where Dr. Charles Gaymes provided cardiac care and testing to treat his condition.

On Oct. 10, a blood clot in Tyler’s heart, the result of a rare blood disorder, was detected during a catheterization and removed through angioplasty.

During a second catheterization to place an implanted cardioverter device (ICD) to protect Tyler from a similar event in the future, he hemorrhaged and was placed on life support. He continued to heal, and four weeks later, was released from the hospital to come home.

Children’s of Mississippi cardiologist Dr. Charles Gaymes, an expert in interventional cardiology and electrophysiology, said Tyler has had no recurrence of cardiac arrest.

“I continue to follow his cardiac status and defibrillator,” he said. “Tyler is one of the patients who made me very interested in a program for immediate CPR and AED use.”

Today, Tyler’s an Ocean Springs High graduate who works at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and still sees Gaymes to keep tabs on his condition. Heart medication, blood medication and heartburn medication are part of his daily routine, and his ICD is monitored by his cardiologists.

“I’m grateful for the care I’ve received,” Tyler Free said, “and for the AED that saved my life.”