Our Founder's Story
It all started in Seattle in 1995. Dale was a victim of his heredity and suffered a heart attack when he was 36 years old. Technically known as MI (Myocardial Infarction), it was caused by a blockage in his LAD (left anterior descending artery).
He was a very active, non-drinker, non-smoker who played college baseball. The blockage wasn't severe enough to warrant a stent or bypass surgery, so diet and exercise were prescribed. Dale moved to Minnesota for his job and regularly visited his cardiologist, undergoing annual stress tests which he passed without issues.
In 1998, Dale Wakasugi began refereeing high school basketball, but on December 13, 2007, with five minutes left in a game at Fridley High School, the 49-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest. As people gathered to help, someone grabbed an AED from the wall of the gymnasium. One of the heroes was 11th-grader Lindsey Paradise, now a good friend of Dale's. She had learned how to perform CPR and use an AED just three weeks earlier in health class.
That trip to the emergency ward resulted in Dale having three stents inserted in his LAD, the very thing his cardiologist had predicted might occur if the plaque broke off. Three days later he was home recuperating when he started feeling sick. Dale's stents clotted, and he suffered a heart attack, this time from clots forming around the stents. He took another trip to the catheterization laboratory that day and received two additional stents to seal the edges of the previous one.
Dale's ejection fraction was only 30% in hospital, and the cardiologist was concerned that he might suffer another cardiac arrest. They installed an ICD (implantable cardio defibrillator) to protect him, and he went home for Christmas on December 25th. He returned to refereeing on February 4, 2008, and has been active since. Then on November 26th, 2010, he collapsed again with cardiac arrest during a girls' high school basketball game. Unlike his collapse in 2007 when people in the audience responded quickly to shock his heart with an AED, this time the ICD surgeons installed in 2007 was the hero. The internal device shocked his heart back into a normal rhythm and saved his life.
It's a proven fact — Good CPR and the use of an AED is what saved his life.
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