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Memphis school board member saves teen’s life


A Memphis school board member used her professional training in her home community to save the life of a student recently. The episode comes as a cautionary tale in light of the highly-publicized near death experience that played out on Monday Night Football Jan. 2.

Amanda Bobcean is an ER nurse with the national healthcare system Ascension, working in several different locations. She is also a trustee on the Memphis Community Schools Board of Education and a district parent. During a sports practice at the school, a male student who was interviewed by a reporter but asked that he not be named had a health episode that prompted Bobcean to spring into action.

The student, age 18 and a member of the varsity wrestling team at Memphis High School has played sports his entire life, including wrestling, football and baseball. He said he had never experienced any major health problems. However on Dec. 15, as he was jogging the halls of Memphis Jr./Sr. High School as part of his wrestling training, he felt his chest tighten. Within moments he experienced a seizure and lost consciousness.

Though it didn’t involve a jarring hit, the incident was similar to one that saw Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffer a cardiac arrest after making a tackle during a Monday Night Football contest against the Cincinnati Bengals, causing the NFL to suspend a pivotal game that quickly lost significance in the aftermath of a scary scene that unfolded in front of a national television audience.

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Amanda Bobcean, an ER nurse and Memphis Community Schools Board of Education trustee, saved the life of a student on Dec. 15, 2022 during an athletic practice at Memphis Jr/Sr. High School. (PHOTO COURTESY OF AMANDA BOBCEAN)

Bobcean is an assistant junior high and varsity cheerleading coach whose students were running the hallways at the same time. She was nearby when the wrestler blacked out.

“I responded to some commotion in the hallway while I was standing there watching my athletes run,” Bobcean said. “I went over and saw a student on the ground that appeared to be confused. I had the student lay down so he didn’t fall and hit his head. The student became unresponsive for approximately a minute. The student seemed confused more but was breathing OK. The student then had episodes of irregular breathing that made me think that this could be cardiac related.”

Bobcean sent someone to retrieve an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and cut the wrestler’s shirt off.

“The AED arrived and I applied the pads and turned the AED on,” Bobcean said. “A minute later, the student turned blue and lost a pulse. I initiated CPR and delivered one shock per directions of the AED. About 30 compressions were given afterwards until the student regained consciousness.”

Bobcean said she received support from other staff members as the wrestler’s teammates directed EMS to him. The teen said his memories of what occurred during the incident are unclear, and he said that those around him described seizures and a few moments of consciousness. He described his most conscious memory as waking in an ambulance around 15 or 20 minutes after passing out.

The wrestler spent six total days hospitalized, first at McLaren Macomb Hospital in Mount Clemens and then at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township. He learned he had an inherited condition, adding a series of echocardiograms led to a diagnosis of non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a thickened heart muscle that can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy can be deadly.

In the aftermath, the teen is encouraging other seemingly healthy young athletes to consider getting an echocardiogram.

Bobcean said he is recovering well. He confirmed he now has an implanted defibrillator and can remain active though he can no longer participate in contact sports to help avoid the risk of passing out.

“The fact that he survived is a miracle,” Bobcean said.

She was recognized last month in a weekly update on the Memphis Community Schools Facebook page posted on Dec. 18. Superintendent Sara Dobbelaer pointed out her efforts in saving the young athlete’s life. Bobcean said she plans to work with him in his goal to raise student awareness about the need for student athletes to receive echocardiograms.

“I want to work with my contacts to see if we can get a mobile heart test for student athletes,” Bobcean said.

Memphis school board member saves teen’s life
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