Jamie Rees was only 18 years old when he was visiting a friend and watching the fireworks on New Year’s Day, 2022. Although he was seemingly in good health, he suffered from cardiac arrest.
According to a the family’s website, immediately, his friends began performing CPR and called an ambulance. A defibrillator was located and although it wasn’t very far away, they couldn’t get to it because it was in a school and was locked.
The police officer who showed up on the scene first did not have a defibrillator. 19 minutes later, the ambulance arrived but Jamie’s brain had already been without oxygen for too long and he died within days at the hospital.
Now, Jamie’s mom, Naomi Issitt is on a mission and it has to do with making defibrillators more accessible. According to USA Today, she said: “If you reach a person in cardiac arrest in seven minutes the chances of getting his heart beating again is 70%.”
She also mentioned that defibrillators are often locked in buildings and that is pointless. Considering the fact that you can’t plan ahead for a cardiac arrest, you need to have easy access to the defibrillator.
That is where the Just Giving fundraiser was initiated. On January 26, the fundraiser got started with the aim to install automatic defibrillators at local schools in her son’s memory. Support came in from the community in an amazing way and within a day, they had reached double their goal and since surpassed that.
Another charity, the OurJay Foundation, was founded by another son of Issitt. Fundraising efforts included many different events, from horse races to a raffle to bingo nights. All in all, the fundraiser was able to bring in about $61,000.
What did they do with the money? They already installed 22 defibrillators in the town and 13 more are going to be there soon.
Jamie’s legacy also had further-reaching effects. Naomi shared on Facebook that he wanted to be an organ donor, so he signed up multiple times in order to prove it. As a result, five people received an organ transplant from Jamie.