Caledonia teen saved by teachers, AED device

Peter Lombardo speaking to 24 Hour News 8 at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids on Dec. 9, 2016.


CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — Doctors at DeVos Children’s Hospital say Peter Lombardo is a miracle. Two of his teachers are considered heroes for saving his life.

Lombardo is your average 17-year-old high school senior. He’s busy with AP classes and preparing for college, choosing between engineering programs at Grand Valley State University or Aquinas College.

During school Monday Peter died, but was brought back to life by his teachers.

“We’re very grateful, best Christmas present ever. We’re here today because of the teachers and the AED device that saved his life,”  Peter’s mom, Jennifer Lombardo shared with 24 Hour News 8.

This week his family learned their healthy son has a heart condition. A little device, known as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, now helps his heart pump normally. Cardiologists who performed the implant agree though, Peter is lucky he even made it to the operating table.

After gym class Monday, Peter collapsed and went into cardiac arrest.

“After I got out of gym, I got to the locker and it was pumping [fast] but I thought it was normal. I just got done doing sprints,” he explained. “I didn’t have a pulse. I didn’t have a heartbeat. I was turning blue.”

Thankfully for him, quick-thinking teachers were nearby.

“There was an adrenaline rush but it was just instinctual. We’ve practiced… We teach it in our classes,” teacher Phil Miedema explained.

An Automated External Defibrillator [AED], and 5 others like it sit around Caledonia High School for emergencies.

Athletic trainer Brett Knoop administered CPR while Miedema ran to grab the AED. Within 2 minutes of him collapsing, Miedema successfully shocked Peter back to life.

“I don’t think we’re heroes. For me a hero is the people who put a uniform on each and every day put their lives on the line to protect us… We were just doing our job,” Knoop said.

Part of their job is training others to use the AEDs. The devices haven’t always been in schools though, and the teachers and Lombardo family credit the Wes Leonard Heart Team for making schools aware of their importance. One of Caledonia High Schools’ six AEDs was donated by the team.

Leonard — a star athlete in Fennville — suddenly died after going into cardiac arrest during a basketball game in 2011.

“You hear about the Wes Leonard story. You hear about stuff they’re doing like that and think, ‘Hey great.’ You know, but until I’m in the situation, it’s beyond important to have them trained and have them in the schools,” Lombardo said.

He’s still a little sore, but Peter is grateful to be alive.

“It’s kind of shocking that I’m talking now. Every doctor I see says it’s really rare for kids to make it. It’s a miracle that I’m here,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

The Wes Leonard Heart Team told 24 Hour News 8 they’re happy to see their mission have such a positive impact in area schools.

Peter and his family say they’re forever indebted to his teachers and grateful for the personable care at DeVos Hospital.

He was able to go home Friday afternoon.