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Defibrillator 'a beautiful thing' says AED advocate

Louis J. Acompora, who died in 2000 at

Louis J. Acompora, who died in 2000 at age 14, is the namesake of the Northport-based foundation that advocates for increased access to automated external defibrillators.

In the eyes of Karen Acompora, the use of a defibrillator to save the life of a Smithtown man who went into cardiac arrest at an East Northport school reaffirms her family's advocacy for AEDs in schools, and is further testament to her son's legacy.

Acompora said the latest save brings to 62 the number of such stories she's collected since the implementation in 2002 of Louis' Law, named for her 14-year-old son who died two years earlier playing lacrosse. A goalie wearing the required chest protector, Louis Acompora was hit in the chest by a ball, which caused him to go into cardiac arrest. There was no defibrillator on the scene.

Karen Acompora and her husband, John Acompora, worked to support the state law, which requires all schools to be equipped with an automated external defibrillator and to have staff on hand trained in its use. They also formed the Louis J. Acompora Foundation, which aims to raise awareness of the role of defibrillators in saving lives.

"It's a beautiful thing -- it gives me currents going through my body," said Karen Acompora, after reading of Peter Clarke, 61, being revived Wednesday morning with the help of a defibrillator at the school where he was dropping off his granddaughters.

"I think it's a miracle," she said.

What's more, the gift of life is paid forward, she said, as some six or seven Long Island survivors are supporting the foundation's efforts, sharing their stories, getting and giving CPR and AED training, and celebrating their "re-birthdays."

One friend who recently sent Acompora a photo of a defibrillator at the Nantucket resort where she was vacationing said, "Louis is here with me."

Said Acompora, 55, of Northport, "I believe God had a plan for Louis and our family." And a story like Clarke's "makes me feel really good. I know this is all not for nothing."


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