Loveland teen who nearly died is using life changing experience to donate defibrillators to schools

LOVELAND, Colo. - A 15-year-old Loveland boy who went into cardiac arrest two months ago is recovering and donating defibrillators to area high schools.

On March 5, Tommy Lucero was in the middle of baseball practice when he collapsed on the field. Lucero's coaches ran over and started performing CPR until paramedics arrived.

"I told my coach I had trouble with my heart before. He said, 'just get a bottle of water and cool down, then start running whenever you can.' I said 'yes sir,'" Lucero explained. "I took off running toward right field and all I remember is the moment right before I fell down. It kind of feels like somebody stabs you a couple times in the chest. It's just that stinging pain."

Lucero was taken to McKee Medical Center where he was stabilized, then transferred to Children's Hospital.

A week later, he underwent surgery for a condition known as anomalous aortic origin of a coronary artery. AAOCA is a heart defect in which a coronary artery grows in an abnormal location on the aorta.

Lucero's dad Tom Lucero told 7NEWS while he and Tommy's mom Julie Kruit waited in the hospital they came up with the idea to donate automatic external defibrillators (AED's) to the Thompson School District.

"You're waiting for the doctors to fix your son and get him healthy and two things came out of that conversation. One, thanks to the immediate work of the coaches to begin CPR, they were able to save Tommy's life, and secondly, the AED, the proximity of the AED was so far from the baseball field that even though they retrieved it, they were not able to deploy it because the first responders arrived so quickly," Tom Lucero  said.

Friends and family raised nearly $9,000 to help cover Lucero's medical expenses. However, his parents had already met their out-of-pocket deductible and decided to donate the raised funds instead.

They used the money to purchase four AEDs to be kept near athletic fields at four high schools within school district.

"There's not a second of every day that I don't think about what they did for our boy. I thank them [the coaches] and the first responders with everything I got," Kruit said. "It was just natural to want to give back to the community that was trying to give to us and try and do something to help future students."

Lucero's parents are also working with members of the Colorado legislature to pass a bill that would require all high school coaches to be CPR certified.

Thursday's donation will kick off the Loveland Heart Safe City campaign, which is a community-wide effort to educate area citizens on the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest.

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