Only 10 percent of the 38 people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive, according to the American Heart Association, so E.J. Galloway was already beating the odds.
But Galloway didn’t stop there.
Two years after going into cardiac arrest and requiring live-saving CPR on the floor during a summer basketball league game in June 2014, the Provine (Jackson, Miss.) senior forward signed a letter of intent to play basketball on scholarship at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Galloway has Provine assistant coach Willie Swinney to thank for his life and basketball career. Swinney worked for Mississippi’s Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare on weekends and was trained in CPR, so he led the efforts that revived Galloway and avoided what could have been a catastrophe.
“He had a pulse, but it was faint, and he had some rising and falling in his chest,” Swinney told The Clarion-Ledger before being honored by Jackson city officials in June 2014. “When we looked at his mouth, his tongue, we didn’t see the normal size a person would have when they’re having a seizure. And that’s when I looked again, at the breathing in his chest, and his chest didn’t come back up again. So I began the CPR process.”
Bystander CPR can double or even triple survival rates of cardiac arrest victims, per the American Heart Association. E.J. and his mother, Ollie Galloway, have since served as advocates for CPR training and equipment in schools across the country, traveling to Washington, D.C. last year to attend the Rally for Medical Research and lobby Congress for National Institutes of Health funding.
“We try to bring awareness for what happened to me,” Galloway recently told the American Heart Association. “We’re trying to do something positive. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye, before you know it. I believe you should live your life to the fullest.”
Since Galloway’s scare, Mississippi passed legislation that will require CPR training in high school physical education classes, and the Jackson Heart Foundation has donated CPR kits to area schools.
Meanwhile, Galloway had an implanted defibrillator installed in his chest, and he returned to basketball activity six months later. Without further incident, he returned to prominence, earning an invitation to the 2015 Mississippi Association of Coaches North/South All-Star Game within a year of the cardiac arrest and signed with the budding Mississippi Gulf Coast program last month.