OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) – The Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation partnered with Madison Middle School to remember Marco Benitez, who died from an undetected heart condition in October 2021.
In December, Madison hosted the foundation's Smart Hearts Don't Miss a Beat presentation to all students to increase health literacy around warning signs, risk factors of sudden cardiac arrest and what to do in a cardiac emergency. The EP Save A Life Foundation also donated an automated external defibrillator to the school in Marco's honor.
More than 23,000 youth are stricken by SCA each year. The EP Save a Life Foundation works to prevent these tragedies by raising awareness of preventive heart care and cardiac emergency preparedness. The foundation has provided more than 35,000 free youth heart screenings, finding 550 with unknown conditions, 256 children had conditions like Marco's.
His mother tells ABC 10 News that her son had just passed a routine physical weeks before his death.
"They told me he was healthy and fine. We would never have found his condition with these routine tests," Kristina said. "Our kids need more specialized screenings like the ones the EP Save A Life Foundation is performing."
Madison Elementary Principal Steve Bailey said the AED is the third one the school will now have.
"Without an AED, life expectancy can be 10%. With one, it's 90%. This donation is so true to our hearts because of the loss of Marco," Bailey said. "When we lose a student, it hits the whole community."
The EP Save a Life Foundation will host the next free community heart screening in April. For more information on warning signs of SCA or how to register for a free screening, go to epsavealife.org.