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A staff donation has funded potentially life-saving defibrillators

The Joshua Caruso Foundation received a staff grant to use in buying defibrillators for schools and sporting organisations.

Thursday, 18 October, 2018.

One otherwise normal Tuesday morning in August 2013, a happy and seemingly healthy Joshua Caruso collapsed on his way to school. His heart had stopped and he died. The 13-year-old had an undiagnosed heart condition – hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) – and his family has since established a foundation in their son’s name to raise awareness about the disorder.

Newcastle Permanent team member Rochelle Stevens is a friend of the Caruso family and so their cause is close to her heart. When the opportunity to contribute to the Joshua Caruso Foundation arose, Rochelle nominated it to be a recipient of the Newcastle Permanent staff donation scheme, known as CommunityAssist. After staff voted on nominated charities, the scheme was able to donate almost $16,000 to the Caruso family’s foundation.

Rochelle said "the Joshua Caruso Foundation provides defibrillators to sporting organisations and community centres, if someone was to fall ill having a 'defib' on site could be the difference in saving their life."

Joshua’s father Joseph said the donation could save someone’s life one day.

Rochelle Stevens from Newcastle Permanent with Joseph Caruso with a defibrillator.
Rochelle Stevens and Joseph Caruso with a donated defibrillator.

"Josh was a healthy, happy 13-year-old,” Joseph said. “He was a keen footy player and represented his local club at touch football. His death was a shock to his family and the local community.

"HCM is a genetic condition that often goes undiagnosed. If one member of the family is affected, it is very likely that others will be too. Josh’s mother Belinda and I have since discovered that our eldest son Nicholas also has HCM. And our youngest son, Bayley, is at risk of developing it.

"Very few people are aware of the condition, which makes detection and prevention extremely difficult. So by educating the community about the risks, through the Joshua Caruso Foundation, we hope to empower people to act quickly in emergency situations.

"The Foundation is working toward donating 100 defibrillators to the community and as of today we have donated 60 defibrillators in the Newcastle area."  

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