Testimony in Harrisburg – HB1803 (AEDs and Screenings)

Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA

Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA


We traveled to Harrisburg, PA to testify before the House Subcommitee on Education.  We were there to support this bill that would mandate AED devices in schools and set up a pilot heart screening program.  We submitted written testimony, but were asked to comment too.  My comments are below:

Chairman Roebuck, Chairman Clymer and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to testify. My name is Darren Sudman and I reside in Plymouth Meeting, a town where two boys, Simon Sudman and Vince Bernardo, died from sudden cardiac arrest in the last five years. Simon was my son and Vince was a graduate of PW High School and a freshman at Shippensburg University.  I am here as the father of Simon Sudman and the co-founder of Simon’s Fund.  I am joined here by my wife, Phyllis and Josh Weisman, the fund manager.

Simon’s Fund was started five years ago, following the death of Simon.  In five years, it has provided heart screenings to over 1600 children in the Philadelphia area. 

Before I begin, I want to ask all of you a question. How many of you have been to a mall, sporting event or theme park with your child or grandchild, and turned around to realize that he or she was not there.  For that split second, do you remember that feeling . . . that sick feeling?  That’s what days feel like after your child dies.

Most of you probably assume that we came here today for Simon.  That is only partially true.  We are here today for your children, because one out of every 100 children have a potentially fatal heart condition.

There is good news.  This bill can help.  This bill, which includes the placement of AED devices and providing heart screenings, can reduce the number of childhood deaths.  How do we know?  Because in Italy, where they have been screening the hearts of all of their young athletes for 25 years, they have reduced the number of deaths by 89%.  Did you hear that . . . 89%.

There’s better news.  This bill can address the problem.  We are not asking for billions of dollars to research for a cure.  This bill is just asking for some inexpensive machines – AEDs – and even cheaper tests – ECG exams.

Let’s try this illustration.  If each member of this General Assembly had one child, and we screened the hearts of all 253 children, we would find 2 – 4 children with a serious heart condition.  That is an unacceptable statistic to ignore.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our story today.  Simon’s Fund would like to return here to provide heart screenings for all of your children, and support your efforts on this bill.  We definitely support HB 1803.  Thank you for your time.

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