San Diego mom whose son died of sudden cardiac arrest advocates for heart screenings

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Posted at 7:18 PM, Jul 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-25 22:18:59-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The sudden cardiac arrest of LeBron James' oldest son during basketball practice at USC Monday is putting the focus on the importance of heart screenings among young athletes.

Bronny James' heart suddenly stopped beating Monday. The 18-year-old incoming freshman was taken to the hospital immediately.

Rhina Paredes-Greeson just marked 14-years since her 15-year-old son Eric died of sudden cardiac arrest.

"It's never easy. It’s always kind of like re-living everything that happened to us that day, said Paredes-Greeson.

The family was getting ready to leave for a cruise. Eric's mom left the house for a doctor's appointment.

"Twenty minutes later, his dad came home and he saw that he had passed away on our kitchen floor," said Paredes-Greeson.

The medical examiner said Eric died from a fatal arrhythmia.

The Steele Canyon High School sophomore played football, wrestled, and danced.

His mom said at times, he complained of shortness of breath. Doctors gave him an inhaler.

"I took him to the doctor; never was an EKG done," said Paredes-Greeson.

"If I would’ve known about sudden cardiac arrest, I would’ve asked for an EKG," said Paredes-Greeson.

The family honors Eric's legacy through the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation.

The foundation partners with local cardiologists and provides free heart screenings at high schools across San Diego.

Cardiologists from Scripps Clinic and other volunteers provide a health questionnaire and EKG to people 12-25. If the EKG is abnormal, an Echocardiogram is performed.

Since the foundation started in 2010, heart abnormalities have been discovered in roughly 500 kids.

"Between those things, we can certainly pick up a lot of high-risk features that can really be asymptomatic," said Scripps Cardiologist Dr. Poulina Uddin.

Dr. Poulina also stresses the importance of knowing CPR.

"Timing of when you start CPR is actually the most critical aspect in terms of recovering," said Dr. Poulina.

Through the foundation, screenings are held at six high schools a year. The organization has also donated nearly 200 AEDs to local schools.

"The AED is the only tool that will restart a heart. CPR is a bridge to life, but the only thing that will restart a life is an AED, and this is why it’s so important that AEDs need to be where the population congregates," said Paredes-Greeson.

She said there's one message she can't stress enough.

"Just because your child looks healthy, that child may not be heart healthy," said Paredes-Greeson.

The next screening is set for Aug. 20 at Montgomery School in the South Bay.