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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
A mourning mom has a warning for other parents about a heart condition that can kill. Sudden cardiac arrest took her only daughter. Now, she's promoting early screening and education to prevent others from suffering heartache.
Her daughter Kristin Maekawa Claudi found love in Italy, then followed her heart back home to Hawaii in 2006. The 28 year old special eduation teacher planned to start a family. "I thought I'd be babysitting my hapa/Italian bambini" says her mother Sharon Maekawa. "But then I got the phone call on Nov. 27, 2009."
Kristin had collapsed, killed by sudden cardiac arrest, a leading cause of unexpected death.
"I just don't want what happened to our family to affect any other families in Hawaii" says Sharon. That's what inspired her to found the Hawaii Heart Foundation to teach people what to do and to fund free screenings.
Dr. Christopher Stefanelli, a Kaiser Pediatric Cardiologist says, "One of the tools we use is the EKG."
An EKG can detect potentially dangerous or deadly abnormalities. The Hawaii Heart Foundation has partnered with Kaiser Permanente to offer free screenings this Saturday at Moanalua High School for teenagers and young adults-- ages 14 to 22.
Dr. Stefanelli explained why. "At about 14, we start to see adult patterns. We also start to see the risk of most of these things."
Sharon says its what her daughter and late husband would have wanted. "He told me you'd be okay you have your mannequins and machines and AED's. That keeps me going."
That, and her angel watching over her. Sharon wears an angel pin that was a childhood gift from kristin. She recently found the priceless memento, along with new purpose. Sharon told us the pin "got lost for at least 15 years. As I was making my move, the pin came out so I felt like I had her support. Hopefully Kristin's passing wasn't in vain and can help save other lives."