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BIRMINGHAM (March 25, 2011) - All of the public and private middle and junior high schools in Alabama without automated external defibrillators (AED) have been targeted to benefit from a unique partnership of charities, Children's Hospital announced today.

Coke Matthews, Chief Development Officer at Children's, announced a partnership with the Lord Wedgwood Charity and Alabama LifeStart to coordinate the work both organizations have gone about successfully, but separately, for the past several years. The Lord Wedgwood Charity and Alabama LifeStart have each worked to ensure that every public high school and middle school along with major gathering places in Alabama are equipped with AEDs.

These defibrillators save lives by automatically diagnosing potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and treating them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm. To date, all of Alabama's public high schools are equipped with AEDs but more than 15 public and nearly all private high, middle and junior high schools in the state are still without.

With the new partnership, Children's, Lord Wedgwood Charity and Alabama LifeStart will consolidate and coordinate efforts to raise funds to purchase additional AEDs and educate school personnel on their use. The partnership will also serve as the statewide affiliate of the Project Adam program, a national effort that makes AEDs widely available and provides education to help prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest in children and adolescents. Availability of the equipment is essential but training is equally important.

"Each year about 7,000 high-school age children in the U.S. die from sudden cardiac arrest, so this is an exciting announcement for students and parents across the state," said Dr. Yung Lau, a pediatric electro physiologist at UAB and medical director of Alabama LifeStart. "Thanks to this partnership we fully expect to take defibrillator placement and training to the next level. Obviously the next steps would be to focus on primary schools and public gathering places."

Ashley Shepherd is one of those 7,000. She was a 15-year-old freshman on the girls' varsity basketball team at Hoover High School in 2003. That year during a regular team practice, the players were taking a water break when Ashley collapsed from cardiac arrest. The athletic trainer, basketball coach and a football coach all came to her aid and took turns administering CPR. One of them grabbed the AED, which the school had only had for about six months, and saved her life. Today Ashley lives in Huntsville where she works for St. Jude Medical in the OR with an electrophysiologist where she programs defibrillators and works with patients post-operatively.

The annual Links to Life Celebrity Golf Classic, held Monday, June 13 at Shoal Creek and the signature fundraising event of the Lord Wedgwood Charity, will underscore the new partnership. The event includes a Dinner and Auction Party at The Club on Sunday, June 12, and an After Party at Michael's Steaks and Seafood in SoHo later that night. The golf tournament is accepting team and individual participants. Tickets are $1,250 and include golf for one and dinner for two. For more information about either participating in the tournament or attending the dinner, please contact Brooke West at 205-871-8131 (ext. 12) or by email at

The annual golf tournament, auction and dinner has hosted many celebrities since its inception in 2007, including Jay Barker, Pat Sullivan, Bobby Bowden, Steve Spurrier, Tommy Tuberville, Archie Manning, Terry Bowden, Jerry Pate, Ron Franklin, Rick Neuheisel, Dennis Franchione, Mark Gottfried, Cliff Ellis, Watson Brown, Mike Kolen, Johnny Musso, Lee Roy Jordan, Mal Moore, Wimp Sanderson, and Winston Groom.

About Lord Wedgwood Charity
After suffering a major heart attack while playing golf in Birmingham in 2001, Lord Piers Wedgwood, international ambassador for Wedgwood China and Waterford Crystal, and member of the British House of Lords, was inspired to give back to the community. Following his recovery, Lord Wedgwood formed the Lord Wedgwood Charity with Birmingham-based business leaders to help place AEDs in high schools and community gathering places. Lord Wedgwood and long-time friend and business partner, Frank Bromberg, III, along with Floyd Larkin and Robbie Robertson, created the Lord Wedgwood Links to Life Celebrity Golf Classic to raise funds. Since its establishment, the Lord Wedgwood Charity has placed AEDs in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana Pennsylvania and Texas.

About Alabama LifeStart
A 2007 survey conducted with the Alabama State Department of Education identified 71 public high schools and 107 public middle schools in the state with no AEDs on campus, including 20 school systems without AEDs in any schools. Cris Brown, working with Dr. Yung Lau and Barbara Mostella of UAB, created Alabama LifeStart to address this need. Before the new initiative was expanded statewide, a grant from Children's Hospital funded a pilot program was conducted in the Black Belt where there was a high concentration of schools lacking the devices. Brown has managed the project since its inception.

About Children's Hospital
The Children's Hospital of Alabama is the only hospital in the state dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children and one of the 10 busiest pediatric medical centers in the U.S. One of only about 45 freestanding acute care hospitals of its kind in the nation, Children's is home to Alabama's only Level I pediatric trauma center and the largest pediatric burn center in the Southeast. The new Children's Hospital expansion facility, slated for grand opening in the Fall of 2012, includes plans to move pediatric cardiovascular surgery to Children's.

For more information about the partnership, visit


Contact: Adam Kelley, Children's Hospital of Alabama
1600 7th Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35233
Phone: 205-939-6660