2 teens hailed as heroes after performing lifesaving CPR for wrestler in cardiac arrest

ByKathleen Hendry and Mason Leib GMA logo
Monday, July 8, 2024 11:58AM
2 teens hailed as heroes for saving friend's life through CPR in New Jersey
2 teens hailed as heroes for saving friend's life through CPR in New Jersey

HOWELL, New Jersey -- A trio of New Jersey teenagers now share a lifelong bond after a terrifying medical event led to lifesaving acts from friends.

High school wrestler J.J. Machnik, then 18, went into cardiac arrest suddenly in May while preparing for an upcoming wrestling tournament. After hearing a crash, Machnik's friends Giovanni Scafidi and Trevor Hodgins came to his aid, knowing he had been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart condition, at 14.

According to the American Heart Association, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a condition characterized by thick walls of the heart, making it difficult to pump the proper amount of blood in and out of the heart with each beat.

"I looked up and saw him on the floor and that's when I was like screaming his name," said Scafidi in an interview with "Good Morning America."

"It rushed in the back of my mind, he has a heart condition," Scafidi continued, recalling, "This is for real."

Hodgins described the moment the pair decided they would take lifesaving measures for their friend in peril.

"Me and Gio just like stopped what we were doing and just listened," said Hodgins, whose mother called 911. "And we just didn't hear anything so that's when we started CPR."

According to J.J.'s mom, Laura Machnik, in the five minutes it took for paramedics to arrive, Scafidi and Hodgins performed uninterrupted CPR to keep their friend alive.

J.J. said he feels "blessed" that his friends were there. "Trevor speeding down to give me CPR, Giovani pulling me off the treadmill," he recalled. "He was giving me the air, he was giving me the pumps," added J.J., pointing to his friends on either side of him.

"Seeing him on the floor, that was something a mother never thought she would ever see... he's a miracle," said Laura.

J.J. was rushed to the hospital and put in a medically induced coma. While in the hospital, J.J. was given a defibrillator, to spare future close calls. He was able to leave the hospital after 13 days.

"J.J.'s a fighter and probably the toughest kid I know," said J.J.'s father, Jeff Machnik.

According to J.J.'s parents, the friends had taken the time to learn CPR once the Machniks shared J.J.'s condition with them so that everyone around him would be educated in the event of an emergency.

According to the American Heart Association "the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risk and can double or triple the chance of survival."

Despite the scary circumstances, Hodgins laughed alongside Machnik and Scafidi, calling their lifetime bond a "good feeling."