EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD)— A South Arkansas mother who is also a nurse is raising awareness about Sudden Cardiac Arrest after losing her son at the age of 16 due to a heart defect they never knew about. Michelle Temple says her son Grayson was a student-athlete whose heart condition went undetected.

“Back in December 2021, our son Grayson started having issues with his heart. At the time, we didn’t know it was his heart. He was experiencing extreme fatigue and dizziness,” said Temple. Grayson told his parents he had seen the school nurse several weeks prior but was advised he was dehydrated.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times cardiac issues in children are discounted to dehydration”, she added. A trip to the cardiologist on December 6, 2021, revealed Grayson needed immediate attention and was directly admitted into the Intensive Care Unit. For three days, doctors did what they could, but it was too late.

“The third day, he went into cardiac arrest, and he passed away. You know, he was the picture of health. He was 16, 6’3″, 230 lbs., played sports, and fished. He was always on the go. He was never a sick child. I mean, never,” said Temple.

As a nurse, she explains she felt horrible about not being able to catch this. Instead of blaming herself, she spent a lot of time researching his condition. “We actually did genetic testing and found out he had a predisposition to cardiac arrhythmia, also known as long qt.”. That’s when she and her husband decided to start Gray’s Army Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness for sudden cardiac arrest; especially among student-athletes. It is the number one cause of death in student-athletes.

Gray’s Army travels to promote hands-only CPR in schools and churches. Mannequins and AED trainers were donated to the foundation by a generous donor. In connection with another non-profit organization, Gray’s Army works to get AED trainers into schools at reduced rates if needed; saying they are important to have handy because they just may save a life.

Temple says, “an AED used within the first one to two minutes increases a person’s chance of survival up to 90% when sudden cardiac arrest occurs.” She says it’s important to know the signs and symptoms, what to do should someone stop breathing, regular and thorough heart screenings, and know your family’s medical history.

In June 2022, The Grayson Temple Act was passed in the state of Louisiana. It requires all coaches, athletic trainers, and school nurses to take yearly training that teaches recognizing the signs and symptoms of this condition and how to address it.

For more information on Grayson’s story and this condition, visit graysarmyfoundation.org