In a small town 200 miles west of Detroit Michigan, the star player of the local high school's basketball team, Wes Leonard, died on the court after making a game winning shot. His last second heroics clinched a perfect regular season for the undefeated Blackhawks of Fennville High School.
The sixteen year old player died of a heart attack caused by a perviously undetected enlarged heart. Read the USA Today story Michigan Prep Basketball Player Dies After Game-winning Shot.
Michigan has a law that requires each school athlete to get a physical prior to the season. These routine physicals do not typically detect underlying heart abnormalities. Unfortunately these abnormalities only become apparent after a sudden and often tragic event. Many doctors are encouraging schools to do extensive testing of the heart as part of the preseason physicals. This point of view is not without controversy because of the cost. I assume that the number of kids with these undetected heart issues is low so that the cost to benefit ratio does not justify the expense. I also assume that Obamacare will heart pre-screening of athletes even less likely.
The Main Point
My son has a heart condition (Read God Loves Baseball for the details) so my biggest fear resurfaced yet again with the tragic fate of the seemingly heathy Wes Leonard. I pray that God provides comfort to his parents. The pain and sadness must be unbearable.
While pre-screening high school athletes for heart defects may not be viable, equipping schools with automatic external defibrillators and training all coaches and / or trainers on how to use them is. I pray that Wes' death prompts more schools to take proactive measures to protect young athletes.