Friday, June 10, 2016 at 01:43AM
Maruchi Mendez

The fields and courts in our schools are silent. No squeaks or whooshes, tackle thumps or pinging bats.  Our children are safe for the summer.  Sport season has ended, and with it the fear of seeing one of them collapse on those same fields or courts. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the No. 1 killer of student athletes in the United States, and the reason they are falling is due to undetected heart conditions.

Every year when summer arrives I take a deep sigh of relief for I know that during these three months the news of losing one of our young athletes takes a respite. They are safe and out of danger.  Why does it have to be this way? The solution is so simple.  It’s as simple as a test, an EKG which would detect many diseases of the heart. We would test our student-athletes just as we test their eyesight, hearing, speed, strength, and endurance.

This past month of May was horrific. I went to my Facebook page and read my posts. I counted Ten incidents. Some of them fatal and some lucky ones who were revived by the new wave of AED (external defibrillators) that are arriving at our schools - if you are one of the lucky 20 States to have had a law passed making EKG’s mandatory in all high schools.  Even then, some base this acquisition of AED’s on “funds being available” which cuts the list in half.  In any event, the answer is not to have the machine that can revive our young student athletes. The question precedes the answer, and it’s – Why were those student-athletes out there to begin with?  If they had cardiac conditions that would have been detected with proper cardiac tests they wouldn’t have had to rely on a machine to be properly charged and maintained so it could work and re-start their hearts. It sounds like total madness to me.

If you haven’t been watching the news, here are the cardiac arrests incidences of middle and high school student-athletes in the month of May alone.

May 1st – Soccer player,  Texas

May 13th – Basketball player, Indiana

May 13th – Volleyball player, Charlotte

May 17th – Football player, Utah

May 18th – Football player, California

May 18th – Football player, Alameda, Texas

May 19th –  Gymnastics, Averill Park, NY

May 21st – Gym, YSU Ohio

May 22 – Track and Field athlete, Fairbanks, Anchorage

May 31st Lacrosse player, Centerville, Ohio

My heart goes out to all those parents. I also have suffered the devastating consequences of losing my son to SCD.  We encourage our children to excel in academics and sports alike while they place their trust in us, therefore, we should make sure that their hearts are healthy.  The silent killer comes with no warning and we need to fight this epidemic by including this test in their yearly physicals, just like vaccines.  In Florida, even our prison inmates get and EKG every year.  At a cost of less than $15 our student athletes could have EKG’s an EKG done.  The fields and courts are empty now, our children are safe. But in late August they will be back filled with hopes of becoming the next MVP. The sounds will emerge, the intensive training will begin and my Facebook posts will resume. How many lives is it going to take to have this law passed?  I have one long summer of praying ahead of me.



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