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Wittenberg Student’s Life Story Leads To Passion For Service

October 10, 2011  
 Filed in Featured, Science

Springfield, Ohio – On Feb. 13, 2008, Evan Cameron, class of 2014, went into full cardiac arrest at his home in Dover, Ohio. His father, an emergency room physician, immediately performed CPR until help arrived. A short time later, a shock from an automated external defibrillator was administered, and Cameron was then taken by life flight to Akron Children’s Hospital where he underwent surgery the following day.

Cameron has ARVD, a genetic condition that causes irregular heart rhythms, which can lead to sudden cardiac arrest. Only 15 at the time, Cameron learned about his condition five months before his cardiac arrest, at which time he was advised to give up sports for six months to see if the irregular heart rate would improve. And then Feb. 13 happened, and the experience changed his life.

Today, Cameron has an automated cardio-defibrillator inside him to monitor his heart rhythm. If he goes into fibrillation, an electrical shock is delivered, which restores his normal rhythm. He also discovered something else inside him – a passion for medicine, so much so that he now wants to be a doctor.

He said the care he received at Akron Children’s and the strong bonds of friendship and respect he developed with his doctor made him consider medicine as a career, but his time at Wittenberg as a pre-med major so far has solidified his vocational selection thanks in part to the biology faculty and a unique opportunity to participate in a global service-learning trip in Lesotho, Africa.

“The most profound thing I took away from the trip was how although the people in Lesotho have so little material possessions, they are so much more content with life than we are,” he said. “Kids still laugh often and play endlessly outside. They appreciate the small things and have a sense of community unlike anything I’ve witnessed in America.”

These memories of Lesotho, Cameron says, will remain with him forever.

“The most surprising part of the trip for me was the beauty of the landscape – the mountains, the bluest sky I’ve ever seen, the stars…I don’t think I’ll ever have a more beautiful place to work. The most meaningful part of the trip was building relationships with the students and adults in our group and with the people we met along the way, especially the kids. The day we spent at the Baylor Pediatric AIDS clinic was the most rewarding and difficult day you can imagine.”

Cameron explained that after what happened to him, he, too, has learned to appreciate how much one life can matter, or the difference one person can make.

“I could put this thought into action in terms of service. For example, by building a house for Habitat, you give that family a gift of a home and a renewed chance at life, just like I got. After what happened I wanted more out of life, and service gave me the fulfillment I was looking for.”

A service trip to New Orleans in the summer of 2008 with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America National Youth Gathering was actually where he first learned about Wittenberg. He has since met several Wittenberg students who were also part of that group.

Although his ARVD required him to give up the sports that he loved – cross country, basketball and baseball – Cameron admits that he feels more well-rounded today.

“While what happened to me was a scary, dark moment at the time, it’s become a blessing because of the person I’ve grown to become.”

Written By: Phyllis Eberts
Photo By: Erin Pence

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