Nova Scotia

Defibrillator failure prompts teen's warning

A 13-year-old in Nova Scotia says his brush with death is a reminder to maintain portable defibrillator machines.

'I really thought he was going to die': mom after son's brush with death

Tanya Lahey says son Kenzie is now only allowed to play hockey in rinks that have working defibrillators. ((CBC))
A 13-year-old boy in Nova Scotia says his brush with death is a reminder to maintain portable defibrillator machines.

Many public buildings have an automatic external defibrillator, or AED, to help save someone in a cardiac emergency.

But when Kenzie Lahey needed one, the machine was dead.

The Louisbourg teen knows he's lucky to be alive.

"I'm just very appreciative to be able to hang out with my friends," he told CBC News.

Three weeks ago, Kenzie was playing in a hockey tournament in Chester when he was hit in the chest with a puck. The young centre fell to the ice.

At first, the coaches thought he had had a seizure. They called over a paramedic they knew who happened to be watching the game.

Kenzie had no pulse. He wasn't breathing.

"I really thought he was going to die," said his mother, Tanya Lahey.

Paramedic Allan Keddy started performing CPR. As a doctor rushed over to help, Keddy called for the rink's defibrillator to shock Kenzie's heart.

Many arenas have AEDs like this. ((CBC))

But the battery in the machine was dead.

"If they're not charged, they're not going to work. You may as well not have them," said Lahey.

Keddy continued with CPR until an ambulance arrived with another defibrillator. One shock and a few more chest compressions, and Kenzie's pulse returned to normal.

'Don't be afraid'

Keddy said the experience is a good reminder to maintain defibrillators.

"When they're put out there, there has to be some sort of control and quality assurance to make sure that they're going to function when you need them," he said.

The Eleanor Pew Morris Memorial Rink got the defibrillator two years ago after a hockey player died of a heart attack.

After Kenzie's experience, arena staff had the device serviced and the battery recharged.

A municipal councillor is looking into the matter.

As it happens, many public buildings around Nova Scotia are due to receive new defibrillators next month.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation is distributing 18 devices to schools, arenas, recreation centres and other public places. Officials are also providing training on how to use the machines.

Kenzie wants people to learn from his experience. At the same time, he doesn't want to scare anyone.

"When they see what happened to me, they shouldn't think it's going to happen to them. Don't be afraid. Just go out there and play," he said.

Kenzie has a followup appointment with a doctor in May. He's not playing competitive hockey, but has been practising his shot in his backyard.

Tanya Lahey says from now on, she'll only let her son play in arenas that have working defibrillators.