Health & Wellness

Awareness Raised By Janet's Law Credited With Helping To Save NJ Teen


WARREN, NJ - Sometimes good things happen after bad.

After their daughter Janet died at 11 years of age in August 2006 from sudden cardiac arrest when jogging during cheerleading practice, the Zilinski family of Warren started The Janet Zilinski Memorial Fund. Janet had suffered from an undetected congenital heart defect known as bilateral hypoplasia of the coronary arteries.  

On Wednesday, a 15-year-old Pascack Hills High School student was revived by a portable defibrillator after he collapsed during a track practice, multiple news outlets are reporting.

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Anthony Cortazzo was practicing with a former student after school when he suddenly collapsed on the track. After he didn't respond to CPR, two students alerted school athletic trainer Steve Papa, who ran down from his office with a portable defibrillator and shocked the student, according to reports.

Cortazzo was breathing on his own when he was transported to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood. It's not clear yet why he collapsed on the track.

Pascack Hills has had AEDs on campus since 2007.

According to the website,, Janet had just started cheering practice and had done some light stretching/warm-ups. The girls were jogging a lap around the football field when Janet told her friend that she was tired and was going to lay down.

She went into cardiac arrest and was resuscitated on the field by a pediatric trauma nurse. Janet’s heart stopped several times en route to the hospital. CPR was administered in the ambulance, and Janet was alive and conscious when we arrived at the ER. She spoke with her parents and was coherent and stable. They were told that she would be OK. A short time later, she went into cardiac arrest and could not be revived. She was 11 years old. Janet’s physical two months earlier had not detected any problems.


Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and the heart stops beating. It is fatal if not treated within a few minutes.Victims of SCA often appear healthy, and the situation usually happens with little or no warning, according to information from The Janet Fund.

If a SCA victim is defibrillated within the first minute of sudden cardiac arrest, chances of survival are close to 90 percent.  Every minute of delay in defibrillation reduces chances of survival.  

According to The Janet Fund, Sudden Cardiac Arrest  is the leading cause of death on school property. Janet’s Law  goes into effect on September 1, 2014. It was signed by Governor Christie on September 21, 2012 and requires all New Jersey public and private schools to have an AED available in an accessible, unlocked location within close proximity to the gymnasium or athletic field. It also requires five trained responders,  the establishment of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest emergency action plan and signs providing direction to the location of the AED.

In memory of Janet, the Janet Fund works to raise awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, lobbys for legislation, and develop strategies to prevent other families from experiencing a similar tragedy. Part of the mission is to distribute AEDs to schools, camps and youth organizations. The Janet Fund is committed to helping schools acquire AEDs to comply with the law.


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