Rex teams up with football team for heart screenings


"About two seasons ago, we had an instance at a local high school where we had a football player who did have a cardiac arrest, that AED was utilized to save his life. So then we started asking the question, certainly there's more that can be done," Vice President of Ambulatory Services at Rex Hospital, Tom Williams said.

Back in August 2009, A Cary High School football player collapsed on the sidelines of a scrimmage at Wakefield High School. School officials used a defibrillator on the young man before taking him to Wake Med. That quick thinking might have saved the teen's life.

The scary reality is that stories like these happen often, with seemingly healthy student-athletes collapsing, and they don't always have happy outcomes. About 2,000 kids a year in the U.S. have a cardiac arrest and pass away on athletic fields.

As tests were conducted Wednesday, a cardiac sonographer was on hand to examine the results as they appeared on the screen. If any abnormalities were detected, a cardiologist would be contacted right away. Otherwise, someone with Rex looks at the tests.

"Of course all athletic departments screen the family history and current history of the athlete, but these things can go undetected and this will allow us to detect it before something occurs," Williams said.

This program was started after Rex Hospital donated several AEDs to local high schools.

"We only had one AED on campus, so it made it rather difficult from a coverage perspective in athletics to provide the coverage we needed on an everyday basis," East Wake High School athletic trainer, Randy Pridgen said.

It's a move that is the first in the state, and that will hopefully keep the 33 players from East Wake High School safe this season.

"We want them to be out there on the football field, but football is temporary. We want them to have a long productive life and that starts with knowing what's going on internally," Head Football Coach John Poulnott said.

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