NEW HAVEN — Michael Vincent Sage was only 29 years old when he died. By all accounts, he was a healthy man. He lived well and exercised. When his life was taken by sudden cardiac arrest in 2010, it was a shock to his family and friends. His wife, Azadeh Rezvani, was widowed after only a few months of marriage.
“Michael was the life of the party. He was very outspoken. He was kind of the glue that held his friends and family together. If Michael was in a room, you knew it. He was brilliant. He was athletic — just an amazing person all around, with so much love to give,” Rezvani said. “We met in law school in San Diego in 2004. We got married July of 2008, and then he passed away almost 7 months later, Feb. 5 2010. Just starting out.”
After her loss, Rezvani decided to try and make some good of it. She is now the president of the Michael Vincent Sage Dragonheart Foundation — a nonprofit she created with family and friends to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest, and to equip as many public locations with automatic defibrillators as possible.
“We want to save lives. We want to prevent somebody else from dying of a sudden cardiac arrest, and the best way that we know how to do that is to raise money to buy these automatic external defibrillators and donate them to facilities that don’t have them. So that hopefully, this never happens again,” Rezvani said. “To increase the survival rate and reduce the death rate. It’s so easy to use these machines, its a waste not to have them in public areas.”
The Michael Vincent Sage Dragonheart Foundation held its launch party Saturday at Kitchen Zinc. The room was packed with supporters picking up slices of artisanal pizza, sipping free wine and drinking craft beer from the cash bar. Elizabeth Ciarlelli, a board member of the Michael Vincent Sage Dragonheart Foundation and manager at Zinc and Kitchen Zinc, said attendance at the launch party was double than what she expected, at just over 100 people. Ciarlelli said she hoped the fundraiser would bring in $3,500, but, considering the high turnout, she anticipated a figure closer to $5,000 — before counting door prizes.
Ciarlelli said Zinc was considering installing an automatic defibrillator for the restaurant. Why more public places don’t have defibrillators on their premises, she said, is a matter of cultural awareness. Ciarlelli compared it to smoking or drinking and driving. Once upon a time, society at large was not aware of the dangers of such activities. Now, she said it’s dangerous not to have a defibrillator on hand, and more importantly, someone willing to use it.
“You don’t have to be a bystander. You can be someone who actually does something good for somebody else,” Ciarlelli said. “It’s CPR, now there’s AEDs that are also available. How great is this? Let’s get one.”
The AED, or semi-automatic external defibrillator, on display was a model manufactured by Defibtech LLC, a company based in Guilford. Daniel Carmody, the vice president of operations for Survival Group of North Haven, demonstrated the AED for attendees of the benefit.
The AED demonstrated worked simply. Carmody said anyone can use it.
Pictograms on the pads that deliver the shock show depict their proper placement. Once in place, the AED monitors the heart of the victim, and is the heart displays a waveform that corresponds with arrhythmia or cardiac arrest, then all the user has to do is push a button.
“I have to interpret that on a manual defibrillator. I have to say, ‘Yes, that’s a shockable rhythm,’ set the current, and push the button. The difference is, the computer takes that decision-making away, which lets the average layperson use it without fear of doing any harm,” Carmody said. “I can manually shock you right now with a defibrillator and kill you. But this takes that danger away, because the computer is looking at it and saying yes, it’s a shockable rhythm. If it doesn’t see the waveform it’s looking for, it’s not going to shock.”
Michael Vincent Sage’s mother, Lauren A. Rossi, said she was overwhelmed to see a room filled to capacity for a common cause. She said she hopes to make a change in how people think of sudden cardiac arrest and automatic defibrillators.
Rossi said, “We have to make people aware, so that they’re not afraid to jump in and help.”
If you would like to donate, visit defibandlive.org.
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