Seminole County Schools athletes to undergo heart screenings next year

Starting next school year, heart screenings will be required for all student-athletes in Seminole County Schools.

Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in sports on school campuses. That’s more than any form of cancer, concussion or illness combined.

"Just got that call from the coach that he had dropped on the field and to meet him at the hospital," Ralph Maccrone, a parent with the organization 'Who We Play For,'" said.

Maccrone’s life changed in an instant. His son, 15-year-old Rafe, passed out during soccer practice at Cocoa Beach High School in December 2007.

"There was just silence on the other end of the phone that said you need to get to the hospital," Maccrone said.

Rafe died at the hospital the next day. Since then, Rafe’s friends and family created the nonprofit "Who We Play For." The organization helps kids get heart screenings to check their heart health before it’s too late.

"The cause of death for Rafe was a condition called hypotrophic cardiomyopathy which is caught 90-percent of the time on an ECG," Maccrone said.

Now, Seminole Schools is partnering with "Who We Play For" to bring ECG screenings, or electrocardiograms, right to school for the kids.

Staff at Hagerty High School said more than 100 kids had already received the screenings at an event Wednesday. 

"[The screenings] are looking for a little bit of an abnormality that might signal that there is an issue that might potentially showcase itself and our fear is that would showcase itself in an athletic event or a practice," Jay Getty, the athletic director for Hagerty High School, said.

Getty said the screenings have already detected heart issues in a few students, who have since been treated and cleared by a doctor.

Gretchen Knoblauch, a parent, received the email about the screenings and said she signed up her 15-year-old daughter, who plays lacrosse, right away.

"They’re young and seemingly healthy but you don’t know what you don’t know. So I think just doing this simple screening that can alert parents and coaches before a child’s in crisis, I think it’s important," Knoblauch said.

The next screening is Wednesday, February 23rd at Lyman High School from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Information to sign up is located here.

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