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Hygienist Survives Cardiac Event and Pays It Forward

With 31 years of experience as a practicing full-time dental hygienist, Karen Ledford, RDH, BS, is definitely glad she chose dental hygiene as a career.

Karen Ledford, RDH, BS
Karen Ledford, RDH, BS

With 31 years of experience as a practicing full-time dental hygienist, Karen Ledford, RDH, BS, is definitely glad she chose dental hygiene as a career. As a young girl, she was intrigued by both medicine and education. Through dental hygiene, Ledford has been able to combine both of these interests. Currently, she teaches part-time for North Carolina’s area health education centers in Greenville, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Raleigh, educating oral health professionals about coronal polishing, intraoral radiography, infection control, and medical emergencies.

A graduate of the Dental Hygiene Program at Central Piedmont Community College in Matthews, North Carolina, Ledford was the only dental hygiene student to graduate with honors. She loves caring for her patients and helping them improve their oral health. On July 12, 2013, she was surprised to become a patient herself when she experienced sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). After 2 weeks of fighting for her life in the intensive care unit, Ledford’s health improved and she has since made a full recovery. “Thanks to my husband who found me unresponsive, my neighbors who performed cariopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and the assistance of my local volunteer fire department and paramedics, I was able to survive the SCA event,” she explains.

Inspired by the experience, Ledford is now a basic life support/CPR instructor for the American Heart Association. She also helps to raise money to purchase automated external defibrillators for nonprofit organizations in nearby communities. “As a survivor, Ibelieve deeply in paying it forward,” Ledford notes.

If you would like to be featured in a future Newsline story, please send a synopsis of your professional life as a dental hygienist along with a high-quality photo to: kmachado@belmontpublications.com.

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. July/August 2019;17(7):10.

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