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Saving Children’s Lives in the Community: Heart Center and Project ADAM

February 03, 2020

In celebration of Heart Month, I would like to highlight the incredible work at Lurie Children’s Heart Center, led by Dr. Stuart Berger as Division Head of Cardiology. Ranked #2 in the country by the U.S. News & World Report, the Heart Center is renowned for a comprehensive array of services that range from fetal cardiology to cardiac disease prevention to pediatric interventional cardiology to heart transplantation.  

Consistent with our goals as a free-standing, research-intensive academic pediatric medical center, the Heart Center continues to excel across our four pillars: clinical care, research, education and advocacy. Among many clinical areas, the Heart Center team will lead the country in the number of heart transplants in 2019 with truly exceptional outcomes.  The Center serves as a foundational environment for training the next generation of pediatric cardiologists, and research conducted in the Center continues to advance our understanding and management of a myriad of complex cardiac diseases.

What might not be as well-known is the critical work our Heart Center is doing to save kids’ lives in the community. Under Dr. Berger’s stewardship and in collaboration with Lurie Children’s Healthy Communities, the Heart Center participates in Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory). This nationwide initiative was founded over 20 years ago by Dr. Berger and the Lemel family after their son Adam died from sudden cardiac arrest while playing high school basketball.

The program aims to prevent tragic deaths from sudden cardiac arrest by training children and adults in bystander cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (B-CPR) and in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Trainings are focused on places where children spend considerable time, such as schools, libraries and parks. Last year, the team at Lurie Children’s conducted 97 such trainings with over 4,300 individuals, including over 1,600 students, primarily in under-resourced communities.

Why is this important? Every year, sudden cardiac arrest occurs outside of hospitals in over 356,000 individuals, including over 7,000 children and adolescents, according to the latest statistics from the American Heart Association. While it is more publicized in athletes, sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. When treated rapidly with B-CPR and an AED, normal heart rhythm can often be restored, and a life saved.

In 2020, the Project ADAM team at Lurie Children’s will be helping schools achieve Heart Safe School designation, which indicates that students and staff have been trained in B-CPR and AED usage and that the school has a documented and rehearsed Cardiac Emergency Response Plan.

I am immensely proud of this work in the community. Together with our partners, including American Heart Association, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Public Schools and Illinois Heart Rescue, we will continue to improve survival from sudden cardiac arrest beyond hospital walls.

I welcome your comments to ceo@luriechildrens.org.

Tom Shanley, MD



Tom Shanley, MD became Lurie Children's CEO & President on December 6, 2019.