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First Responder Pens Emotional Letter After Florida Student's Death

“I am sorry I failed you. I'm sorry you lost your life so soon.”

When 18-year-old Michael Namey, a freshman at the University of Central Florida, had a seizure while attending a precalculus class on Monday, fellow student and trained first responder Manny Orozco Ballestas rushed to the teen’s side.

Ballestas, along with another student, performed CPR on Namey until emergency personnel arrived. “I did everything I was ever trained to do,” Ballestas says.

Namey is believed to have suffered cardiac arrest. He died in the hospital on Tuesday.

In an emotional open letter to Namey’s family, which has gone viral on Facebook, Ballestas described his efforts to save his schoolmate.

“Your son fought for his life without feeling any pain. I did everything I knew how to possibly do but it wasn't enough,” Ballestas wrote, addressing Namey’s parents. “I cannot fathom the pain you feel and my words will never ease them but please know that I am so sorry.”

“The image of his face as I gave him his last breaths and pumped his chest will never leave me,” he said.

In his letter, Ballestas went on to talk about the importance of CPR and the need for more AED (automated external defibrillator) machines in schools. He then urged “everyone out there” to learn the basics of CPR and AED.

“Every single second counts, trust me. It could mean the difference between life and death … I only wish I would have gotten to him a couple of minutes sooner,” he wrote.

(Expand the Facebook post below to read Ballestas' full message.) 

Namey was an engineering major at UCF. According to the Central Florida Future, the teen had been attending a lecture on Monday when he stood up, bent backward over his chair and had a seizure.

Other than CPR efforts, an AED was reportedly deployed on Namey two times before rescue crews arrived on the scene. According to the university, Namey was taken to Oviedo ER and later transported to Central Florida Regional Hospital.

Joseph Namey, the teen’s brother, thanked the first responders who came forward to help his sibling.

“We truly appreciate how many different first responders were willing and able to assist after he collapsed, and the outpouring of support from the UCF Community,” he told the Sentinel.

In the wake of Namey’s death this week, there has been a call for an increase of AED machines on UCF's campus.

“There are 61,000+ students here at UCF and we all deserve to feel safe,” says a Change.org petition urging the school to acquire more life-saving machines. 

Thus far, more than 700 people have signed the petition.

According to the American Heart Association, immediate CPR and the deployment of an AED can more than double the chance of survival for a heart attack victim.

“In fact, early defibrillation, along with CPR, is the only way to restore the victim’s heart rhythm to normal in a lot of cases of cardiac arrest,” the organization says. “For every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, however, the chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10 percent.” 

According to WKMG-TV, UCF has yet to comment on whether or not it will get more AEDs. However, it has organized three free CPR classes on campus, which will take place in the next few weeks. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misused the term "heart attack" for "cardiac arrest."

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