Photo by Kelly White
“Move out of the way, we have a hero coming through!”
This announcement rang through the halls of Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn last month, from Patient Care Assistant, Susan Schnoor, as 15-year-old Bobby Sianis visited his father. The Palos Hills resident and freshman at Stagg High School had learned CPR only one week prior to saving his father’s life on May 6.
“He’s a hero,” Schnoor said, “You don’t hear cardiopulmonary resuscitation success stories every day and especially because he is so young, it is really incredible.”
Bobby was paying his respects to his grandmother at Lack & Sons Funeral Home in Hickory Hills when his father, George Sianis collapsed and stopped breathing. As Bobby administered compressions on his dad's chest, he coached his mom on how to tilt George's head back and blow air into his lungs. Upon arrival, paramedics from Christ praised Bobby's courage and resourcefulness.
“I didn’t even know that he knew CPR,” George said, “I am very proud that he took charge. Usually Bobby is shy, but that day he really stood up and took action.”
Bobby received the Citizen Hero Award from the Roberts Park Fire Department last Tuesday night from Fire Chief Jeff Ketchen who thanked Bobby for his calm and collective actions. Bobby also received a plaque from the American Red Cross for extraordinary personal action.
“We want to recognize Bobby for the astonishing actions he took that were necessary to save his father,” Theresa Rees, territory aquatics specialist for American Red Cross said.
George has diabetes but until that day, he did not know he had heart issues. The Sianis’ youngest son, Demetri, 11, was born with a heart condition and has already undergone open-heart surgery.
“It’s a very scary thing,” George said, “However, even with everything that has happened to our family, I couldn’t have asked for better kids.”
His kids were on his mind when he awoke from cardiac arrest in Christ Hospital, according to one of the nurses caring for George, Heidi Hall.
“When he woke up the first thing he did was ask for his son,” Hall said, “He was repeating ‘Where’s my son? Where’s my son?’.”
When Hall first heard of George’s story prior to taking on treatment, she assumed Bobby was an adult.
“When I realized Bobby was just a 15-year-old boy, I was absolutely floored,” she said.
Bobby’s grandmother, Mary Athanasiou, of Burbank, describes the event as a miracle.
“Everything happens for a reason and if this would have happened any other day and Bobby not had been there, he wouldn’t be with us today,” she said.
George also suffered a broken ankle during the incident and at the hospital; a defibrillator was implanted to monitor his heart. Often patients who survive such an ordeal experience subsequent breathing issues or brain damage; however, because of Bobby's CPR, George was saved from those side effects as well, Bobby’s mother, Bessie, said.
“I am just so proud of Bobby,” Bessie said. “As it happened, I just kept thinking, please don’t die like this. Don’t leave us.”
Thanks to Bobby, his father is still here and reportedly doing much better.
“Bobby has been helping me a lot around the house,” George said. “Since he’s out of school for the summer now, he has even been cooking for me. Anything I need, he’s always there. He’s my son and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Bobby is hoping to take his compassionate nature to a whole new level and aspires to become a paramedic.
“Even if it isn’t on the South Side, I know now that I want to become a paramedic and help save lives,” he said.
Being called a hero from nurses at Christ Hospital may have made the timid teenager blush, but he admits it was "really kind of cool."