Ian Quinones, 13, collapsed in cardiac arrest during his physical education class at Rincon Middle School on Dec. 14. Within minutes, school nurse Debbie Moore was at his side with a defibrillator, a device that uses electric shocks to treat life-threatening heart issues, which the school had acquired just two years earlier.
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After two months in the hospital, Ian is scheduled to return home Friday.
Ian Quinones the Survivor
His father, Roger Quinones, said medical workers at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego called his son a Christmas miracle after fast action at the school, and with the defibrillator, revived Ian.
“He seems to be 100 percent normal,” Quinones said about Ian, who could have sustained a brain or neurological injury from the cardiac arrest. “That’s surprising a lot of doctors there.”
The defibrillator was a gift from the Rincon eighth-grade class of 2008. Physical education teacher Brian Hudson said the idea to buy the $1,500 device came after a firefighter gave a CPR class at the school.
“He said he didn’t understand why all businesses don’t have a defibrillator,” Hudson said. “We didn’t, and I had the same question.”
Hudson, an Associate Student Body adviser that year, suggested the eighth-grade class buy the defibrillator as a gift for a school. Coincidentally, Ian was in Hudson’s class when he collapsed about a two-and-a-half years after the defibrillator was bought.
Quinones said he was driving to work when he got a call from his ex-wife, Tammy, telling him their son had been taken to the hospital with a serious condition.
“I could hear from through the curtains saying, ‘He has no pulse,’” he said. “I couldn’t believe my little boy was in there.”
Quinones said a defibrillator was used on Ian several times at school and in the hospital to start his heart. After the incident, district officials began discussing the possibility of buying automated external defibrillators like the one at Rincon for all schools.
Bob Leon, deputy superintendent of human resources, said the 23-school district expects to spend about $40,000 for the defibrillators at all campuses, the district office and its preschool center by the end of the school year this summer.
“Talk about luck,” she said about Ian. “The one AED in the district happened to be where it was needed.”
Rincon Principal Jon Centofranchi credited the staff and the defibrillator with saving Ian’s life.
“It all happened very fast,” he said. “A number of teachers responded. The ERs at Palomar (Medical Center) both said it was the immediate CPR and the use of the AED that saved his life.”
Ian later was diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson-White syndrome, which creates electrical abnormalities in the heart. Quinones said his son has had a procedure to correct the syndrome.
Ian also was put into an induced coma for a couple of weeks to help his heart and body rejuvenate, Quinones said. As a side effect of one of the procedures, his right foot and leg did not get enough blood and he needed an operation to reduce swelling. He is still recovering from that surgery, Quinones said.
Centofranchi was a daily visitor at the hospital during Ian’s first week there, and Rincon family members bought gift cards to help the parents during their vigil in their son’s room, Quinones said.
“They’re just the most phenomenal people,” he said. “When you’re in a desperate situation, you really find out who cares.”