A UCLA alumnus aims to combat sudden cardiac arrest by creating more efficient devices to treat the condition.
Sameer Jafri, who graduated in 2017, co-founded Revive Solutions after graduation to make automated external defibrillators. The company currently has over $6 million in funding. Jafri said it is in the process of getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its product, and hope to commercialize it in the next few years.
SCA occurs when the heart stops beating unexpectedly. The condition, which affects more than 356,000 people annually in the U.S. and has a survival rate of approximately 10 percent, is the second most common cause of death among people under 25, and is the number one cause of death in student-athletes.
Jafri said he hopes to create an AED that is more portable, inexpensive and easier to use than current devices.
Jafri said bystanders must be able and willing to use AEDs to decrease the number of deaths caused by SCA. AEDs do not require a medical professional to operate. However, many people mistakenly believe that they cannot use an AED, he said.
“Our goal is to build a device that is marketable and accessible to everyone,” Jafri said. “(Our) vision (would be to) get them in the hands of people and make them a lifesaver at the end of the day.”
He said he hopes to increase the prevalence of AEDs so more people can benefit from them.
“We want to make AEDs as ubiquitous as fire extinguishers,” he said. “(They’re) similar because they’re something you hope you never have to use but want it there because it could save someone’s life.”
Jafri first became interested in SCA while in high school, when he discovered and began working with the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation, which holds heart screenings to check for heart abnormalities that may lead to cardiac arrest.
Jafri, a student-athlete at the time, said the issue became important to him personally when he learned about SCA’s prevalence among student-athletes. Additionally, a member of his family experienced cardiac arrest, which he said further ignited his passion for the issue.
“It was kind of a three-prong approach where I got involved in the foundation, I was a student-athlete and I saw it happen in my family,” he said.
While at UCLA, Jafri co-founded the nonprofit Saving Hearts Foundation with two classmates, Mehwish Khan and Aneeq Malik.
Khan, who graduated in 2017, said they created the foundation to host heart screenings and raise awareness about SCA.
“We thought (SCA) was a public health matter that was generally untouched,” she said. “(It was) something we could make a difference in, especially being in college and having UCLA’s resources (at our disposal).”
She said Jafri was ambitious and passionate while they worked together.
“Working with him, he had a lot of big ideas,” she said. “We’d always be like, ‘You sure about that?’ (but) these ideas were all with good intent. They meant something to him.”
Maureen Legg, co-executive director of the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation, said bystander interference is crucial in combating SCA.
“People need to know what to do – they have to be willing to jump in and take action until (emergency medical services) arrives,” she said.
Jafri said he believes in order to combat SCA on a larger scale, the general public must be more aware of the prevalence and severity of the condition. He said he hopes preventing SCA will become a higher priority for people as it receives more attention, similar to how concussions have received significant media attention in recent years.
“From a health care perspective, the topic of concussions has become mainstream conversation,” he said. “Knowing we can do something to increase survival rates (of SCA), it deserves that recognition and conversation across society as well.”