Okanagan student released from hospital after suffering cardiac arrest in gym class

An Okanagan teen who suffered a cardiac arrest in gym class last week is thankful for the quick response from teachers that helped him survive.

When 13-year-old Dilshaan Dhaliwal collapsed, two P.E. teachers jumped into action, giving the Grade 8 student CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED), which the school had readily available.

After almost a week at the B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, Dhaliwal is now back home in Oliver, awaiting an open-heart surgery at the end of the month.

He’s thankful for the help of his teachers as well as a friend who informed staff he had a heart condition.

“If it wasn’t for the AED machine and the teachers being able to jump in so quick without any thinking and being able to start CPR and using the AED, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now,” Dhaliwal said from his hospital bed earlier this week.

His long-term prognosis is good

“Thankfully Dilshaan, because of the prompt CPR and the prompt AED deployment, has actually had a miraculous rescue and is doing very well,” said Dr. Shubhayan Sanatani, the head of cardiology at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

“He does have other cardiac procedures ahead of him, but overall I think his outlook is very good.”

However, Sanatani believes the outcome would have been different if no AED was on hand or if CPR wasn’t administered.

For the doctor and his patient, the incident underlines the benefits of installing AEDs in schools.

“Thankfully cardiac arrest is uncommon in young people,” Sanatani said.

“However it can be difficult to predict and it can occur almost at any time without warning, thus the importance of being prepared.”

Dhaliwal’s school, Southern Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver, has had the AED for six years and this is the first time they’ve needed to use it.

“I feel like every school should have [an] AED because you never know,” Dhaliwal said.

“We didn’t know this was going to happen, so since we had it I was saved. It saved my life.”

The teen has also become a proponent of the benefits of learning CPR.

Sanatani said AEDs are very easy to use and don’t require training. The key is to make sure people know where they are so they can be deployed in an emergency.

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