From left, Armen Jeknavorian, paramedic and founder/owner of Emergency Medical Educators; Payne Arts Magnet School student Nathaniel Greenwood; Lowell Public Schools interim chief Wendy Crocker-Roberge and Superintendent of Schools Liam Skinner (Courtesy Lowell Public Schools)

Teen with CPR Training Gives Dad a Little More Time with His Family

70
0

LOWELL (Lowell Sun) — On the evening of February 22, Mark Greenwood was tired. He said goodbye to his oldest daughter, Veronica, and headed up to bed in his Centralville home. A short time later, his wife, Suzana, went to check on him and found him unresponsive. He was not breathing. His heart had stopped.

“I started screaming and the kids (13-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year-old Zachary, and 9-year-old Isabella) all ran into the room,” recalled Suzana. “I called 911 and the dispatcher asked if anyone could do CPR. I looked at Nate, he looked at me, and he just sprang into action. He did it until the paramedics arrived and they were able to restore his heartbeat before they left.”

A week prior, their son, Nate, an eighth-grader at the Pyne Arts Magnet School, had been certified in CPR and First Aid at school through a program taught by Armen Jeknavorian, a paramedic and founder/owner of Emergency Medical Educators.

It was Mark Greenwood who pushed his son, Nate, a quiet kid whose dream is to become a US Air Force pilot, to take the class, not because he ever thought he would use it on him, but because it is an important skill to have.

There were nine slots available. Nate was the ninth kid to sign up. Mark himself went through CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) through the city of Lowell in 2014 because he felt it was important to be prepared if you are going to be part of a community.

“Whether or not Nate wanted to take it, I don’t know, but he did it for dad,” Suzana said. “And he did a great job that night. I watched him. It was flawless, the compressions were just amazing. I freeze and I can’t handle that kind of stuff.”

Get the Mirror in your inbox:

On May 29, Nate Greenwood was honored at school in a ceremony attended by Superintendent of Schools Liam Skinner, Interim Chief Schools Officer Wendy Crocker-Roberge, Suzana, and several other members of Nate’s family, where Jeknavorian presented him with a Heartsaver Hero certificate from the American Heart Association and challenge coins to honor his courageous act from Emergency Medical Educators and Cataldo Ambulance.

“As a Pyne Arts family, I think it is important to share this story of bravery, courage, and heroism,” said Principal Lori Lang. “If it were not for Nate’s heroic and courageous behavior the Greenwood family may have lost Mr. Greenwood that night. The gift of time is precious.”

Jeknavorian said he has been working in his field for 30 years, teaching for 15, mostly to adults. Last spring, he met Sullivan Middle School Community Schools Manager Gayl Hurley at a karate class in which their children were enrolled and shortly thereafter he was teaching CPR/First Aid and babysitting classes to middle schoolers, first at the Sullivan, and then as word spread, in several schools across the city.

“The past year has been an amazing year teaching these youngsters First Aid, CPR, and babysitting skills,” he said. “They grasp the concepts very quickly; and they know how to respond. “Nate, I can’t express how proud I am of you,” he added. “My colleagues all wished they could be here today to personally shake your hand. If you ever need a CPR certification, it’s on the house, for life.”

Mark Greenwood was born with a congenital heart defect and a mutation of the TNNT2 gene that caused cardiomyopathy. He had a pacemaker implanted when he was 27 years old. Suzana met Mark when he sold her a car, and as she puts it, “we just instantly connected.”

He was 32 years old at the time.

“I was already visiting him in the hospital before we really even knew each other,” she said. “It didn’t really faze me. To be honest, I think I was in denial for a long time.”

The couple met in 2004 and married in 2009. Unable to work due to his heart disease, Mark became Mr. Mom. “He raised the kids, he did all the cooking — not much of the cleaning,” laughed Suzana. “He was always there for the kids and had the opportunity to spend so much time with them and did not ever let his illness stop him.”

He coached boys’ baseball for 16 years, retiring in 2023 after his team won the championship. He was put on oxygen full time in 2022 when his heart failure worsened, but it didn’t stop him from riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle — oxygen tank in tow.

“He packed in more than any of us will in a normal lifetime,” Suzana said. “I thought he was doing great. He always pushed through … until he just couldn’t do it anymore.”

After being revived on February 22, Mark was taken to Lowell General Hospital, intubated and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. On March 3, he was transferred to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. On March 8, he was strong enough to breathe on his own and be taken off the ventilator.

“We were concerned about his brain, but he came all the way back — he knew who we were, he knew everything, no issues at all,” said Suzana. “His sense of humor came back. And he was able to thank Nate for saving his life.”

He asked Suzana to bring all of the Easter stuff to the hospital so he could fill eggs for the kids. The doctors were talking about moving Mark to a rehabilitation facility when things took a turn for the worse. He began to swell and the doctors could not get his heart failure under control. Suzana, who had visited him every day, was still in denial.

“I figured we are in Boston — best hospitals around — they’ll figure it out,” she said. “On April 8, he called me himself and said that he wasn’t doing well. I did not know what that meant.”

When she arrived at the hospital, the doctors told her his kidneys were failing because his heart was so weak. “We didn’t have much time at that point,” Suzana said. On the morning of April 10, having stayed at the hospital overnight, she left early to go home and bring the kids to school.

“I never saw him again,” she said. “When I left, he was awake and when I got back, he was sleeping and never woke up.”

Mark Greenwood was 51 years old. Suzana said she is grateful for Nate’s CPR training because “it gave us a few more good weeks with Mark.” “Nate knew that dad had been through a lot, he was at peace with knowing that dad was no longer suffering,” she said. “Knowing that he came back to us was enough for him.”

Get the Mirror-Spectator Weekly in your inbox: