Fund-raising event creates awareness of sudden cardiac arrest

Dr. Paul Nguyen, Dr. Rubina Nguyen. and Dr. Sarah Alfano, with student ambassadors


CHICAGO: Over 500 people attended the 2nd Rhythm of Life Gala hosted July 27 by the Sudden Cardiac-death Awareness Research Foundation (S.C.A.R.F.), an annual fundraising event which aims to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest at the Chicago Marriott in Schaumburg, a northside suburb of Chicago.

“While S.C.A.R.F. has accomplished so much over the years and we have nearly doubled in size in the past year and are grateful for the tremendous support we received from individuals, community groups, local and national organizations, we still have a long way to go,” said Rubina Nguyen, co-founder of S.C.A.R.F.

“Sudden cardiac arrest remains the number one cause of death in this country and is responsible for more than 550,000 lives lost each year. Awareness surrounding the issue is vital because this number continues to rise,” she said

The event highlighted the achievements of S.C.A.R.F.’s automated external defibrillators (AEDs) donation program which provides free AEDs for nonprofit organizations, including schools, park districts, places of worship, and charitable organizations. Through its AED donation program, S.C.A.R.F has approved 16 Chicago area facilities to receive an AED free of cost thus far this year.

The evening represented the culmination of the 2019 S.C.A.R.F. Mentorship and Career Guidance Program which hosted 50 high school and college-age interns, their largest mentorship class to date.

The eight-week mentorship program provided an opportunity for Chicago area students to do research on health care topics, do rounds with cardiology and electrophysiology physicians, and participate in community awareness events during their summer vacation.Sudden cardica student ambassadors

The core goal of the program was to provide exposure to medicine while promoting the importance of philanthropy and giving back to the community – all while gaining professional skills that can carry them through any educational or career path.

Each year, student ambassadors present their research via poster presentation to a team of judges. This year’s winning project, R.E.S.T., on the topic of sleep apnea was created by Shalin Kadakia, Shravi Kothari, and Ananya Sehgal.

“The most common hours of sudden cardiac arrest are between midnight and 6 a.m.,” said Dr. Paul Nguyen, founder of S.C.A.R.F. “This is why having a foundational knowledge of sleep apnea is critical towards our mission.”

Co-founders Rubina and Paul Nguyen awarded the Dr. Harvinder Sareen Scholarship to student ambassador Morish Shah for her outstanding achievements and contribution to the mentorship class.

Dr. Sowmya Anjur of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy was the recipient of the S.C.A.R.F. educational grant.

S.C.A.R.F. has launched a new program for students who are not yet of age to participate in the Mentorship and Career Guidance Program, S.C.A.R.F. Junior. SCARF Junior is an introductory camp designed for youth participants between the ages of 10 and 13 to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the heart, professionalism, healthy lifestyles, and how to plan their career paths from an early age. Students also participated in heart dissection and became officially CPR/AED certified by the end of the camp.

For more information about S.C.A.R.F.s’ AED donation and mentorship programs or if you know of an organization that would benefit from an AED, visit to apply.

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