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Family honors teenage son who died suddenly

HOUSTON – After losing her 17-year-old son to sudden cardiac arrest, a Cypress-area mother was on a mission to help bring awareness to the silent killer that took her son’s life.

Damani Gibson was a bright light to his family and friends. His light was dimmed in March 2019 when, at just 17 years old, he died from Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA.

“I get outside and I see him in the car and it didn’t look real,” said Gibson’s mother, Raqayya Gibson. “I was like, ‘Damani, stop playing. Get up,’ and he didn’t move. I reached inside to the passenger side and I shook him, and he didn’t move.”

SCA occurs when heart function abruptly ceases, without warning. The condition affects about 7,000 children per year.

“You can’t see it from the outside, that’s why it’s important to get the screening," Raqayya Gibson said. "We think that heart screenings should be part of the annual physical exams.”

She has now banded together with other parents who have lost their children to SCA, to not only keep their memories alive but also to make sure no other children die.

“If we can test their eyes and ears in elementary school, why not test their hearts the vital organ that keeps them alive?" Raqayya Gibson said. "It’s easy … It’s simple. It’s a 5-minute test.”

Gibson started the Healing Hearts: Parents of Sudden Cardiac Arrest group to help other parents dealing with this serious matter.

She has also begun compiling the stories of other children whose lives were taken because of SCA. View the videos here.