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Teen's Death Inspires Defibrillator Bill

"If you think about saving the life of a child, $3,000 isn't a lot of money."

Terry A. Gordon, the Akron cardiologist who, along with Josh Miller's parents successfully lobby the state of Ohio to establish a grant for schools to buy defibrillators

A 15-year-old Barberton boy's cardiac arrest death during a 2000 football game inspired the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday to pass a bill that would encourage schools to buy cardiac defibrillators and train staffers to use them.

The measure authored by Copley Township Democrat Betty Sutton must still pass the U.S. Senate to become law. The House adopted it on a unanimous voice vote. The death of linebacker Josh Miller, who attended Sutton's church in Barberton, prompted her to draft the bill.

"Josh was the sort of kid who could light up a room," Sutton recalled on the House floor, adding that he hoped to someday play football at Ohio State University.

Miller's death prompted his parents and Akron cardiologist Terry A. Gordon to successfully lobby the state of Ohio to establish a grant for schools to buy defibrillators, which provide a jolt of electricity that restarts stalled hearts. Sutton's bill would establish a federal education department grant program that would emulate Ohio's.

Gordon said Ohio's program has already saved 13 lives, including that of a Santa Claus who suffered cardiac arrest at an elementary school. Sutton's bill doesn't set a cost for the federal program, though Gordon said the devices cost between $1,000 and $3,000 apiece.

"If you think about saving the life of a child, $3,000 isn't a lot of money," said Gordon. "The cost of an ambulance ride for someone suffering from cardiac arrest is more than a defibrillator would cost, and the cost of taking care of a child who survives cardiac arrest with brain damage is in the millions."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: seaton@plaind.com, 216-999-4212

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