Calhoun senior revives grandmother at basketball game


Calhoun High School senior Zahrah Ibrahim revived her grandmother, Graciela, after the woman passed out at a basketball game at Calhoun High School. 

Panic broke out at a basketball game at Calhoun High School when Graciela Ibrahim, 78, of Merrick, passed out in the bleachers. Graciela was with family members at the March 19 competition for the North Bellmore-North Merrick Basketball League when she collapsed. The hysteria subsided when Graciela’s granddaughter and Calhoun High School senior, Zahrah Ibrahim, performed chest compressions on her grandmother and revived her.

“She was cold, had purple lips and was very pale,” Zahrah said. “It was very scary.” Immediately after Graciela collapsed, Sam Ibrahim, Zahrah’s father and the president of the North Bellmore-North Merrick Basketball League, poured water on the woman’s face in an attempt to shock her back to consciousness. Zahrah followed by trying to take her pulse, but was unable to find it. She began the CPR procedure that she had first learned in her eighth grade physical education class and continued to practice as a lifeguard.

“I don’t think I was thinking in that moment, I was just reacting,” Zahrah said. She explained that she begins the CPR procedure by placing her hands on top of each other and on the mid-chest of the unconscious individual. Using straight-down pressure, Zahrah said she would thrust forward to the beat of “Staying Alive,” by the Bee Gees. “That’s how we learned it in gym class,” she added.

If chest compressions are not successful, the next step in CPR is to give the unconscious individual two breaths and, if that does not work, to use a defibrillator. Zahrah said that her grandmother opened her eyes before this was needed. Graciela was taken to the emergency room, released on March 22 and is in the process of following up with her cardiologist.

Zahrah has been lifeguarding at Douglaston Yacht Club since she was fifteen. She is on the swim team at Calhoun and plans to continue swimming on a club team in college.