Can you tell me a little bit about your heart journey – from diagnosis to where your family is today?

On January 12, 2022, my son, Isaiah Bangoura, was in school when I got a call around 12 PM saying that his heart had stopped beating while he was going into the gym after lunch. I was at work, and I was losing it – I didn’t know what was happening.

When I got there, they said my son was being taken to the pediatric ICU. My whole life changed. I started to unravel what was going on – they told me he’d had a cardiac arrest, and that the school had performed CPR and used an AED. I felt lost – this is my 10-year-old son, who’s never had a symptom, and has no preexisting conditions and no medical history to clue us that this could happen. He’s a healthy, athletic kid. It was overwhelming. After eleven nights in the hospital, he had an S-ICD implanted.

I am so grateful school nurse Lynn Hoff and School police officer Todd Tyler at York City Phineas Davis Elementary for literally saving my son’s life, and for all of the staff and teachers that refused to stop fighting for my son’s life that day. It was a team effort to save my son. If they hadn’t known CPR, and had access to an AED, I don’t know where we’d be today. Isaiah had no prior symptoms, and this wasn’t something we could have prepared for.

Now we’re in the aftermath – dealing with post-surgery life. This is a lifelong journey. I’m blessed to have had this outcome, but the SCA had an impact on my son’s mental health. There’s a lot of trauma for both of us, and it’s a lifelong learning process for both me and Isaiah.  

What do you want others to know about CPR & AED awareness?

There are only two people in my son’s school of 700 kids who have CPR and AED training. With so many kids, how is two people with training the only requirement? I never thought this would happen to my kid, and now I’m an advocate for training coaches and school personnel. If Lynn and Todd hadn’t been there, I could have lost my son.

As an assistant coach, and someone who travels with my kids for baseball and football, I wonder what would happen if a kid had an SCA on the field, and someone wasn’t there to help. That’s why it’s so important to spread awareness and be an advocate.

To learn more about how you can be a part of National CPR & AED Awareness Week, click here.