BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — More than a hundred children and young adults ages 12-24 had a free heart screening on Saturday.
Bakersfield Heart Hospital partnered with Olivia's Heart Project to provide the screenings.
Corinne Ruiz, the founder and president of Olivia's Heart Project, made it her mission to increase awareness and prevent sudden cardiac arrest in children and young adults.
Ruiz lost her 14-year-old daughter, Olivia, to sudden cardiac arrest in 2004.
"My message is 'We want to keep young hearts beating'. I couldn't save Olivia, but we are doing all that we can so that no other parent has to experience this nightmare," Ruiz said.
She said the underlying condition which caused the sudden cardiac arrest in Olivia was Long QT Syndrome.
"I do believe had she been screened, which is what we are doing here today, it would have been detected and she would have been alive today," she said.
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, sudden cardiac arrest affects more than 1,000 people outside hospitals each day in the United States, and only 10% survive.
Ruiz said this is the second heart screening event they have held. At the last screening, 58 kids were screened, and five were found to be at risk for sudden cardiac death.
Another mission for the project is to place AEDs on all school campuses.
Ruiz said all schools in the Kern High School District have AEDs, and they are working on adding them to more schools. She said they recently donated 12 AEDs to Shafter.
Along with AEDs, they are also pushing for CPR to be a part of the high school physical education curriculum.
To learn more, head to www.oliviasheartproject.org.