Teen's death sparks awareness of athlete heart screenings

By: Carter Coyle Email
By: Carter Coyle Email
Brant Goins

Brant Goins

News 12 at Six O'Clock / Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. -- School may be out for the summer, but many student athletes practice all year round. One year ago today, a Burke County high school athlete unexpectedly died from heart disease. News 12 spoke exclusively with Brant Goins' family today, and they now have a message for all parents.

Even though heart disease in children is pretty rare, every year student athletes around the country die because their condition when undetected. Brant Goin's mother says it's time for all parents to be prepared and proactive. "He and his sister was always a duo!" Jennifer flips through old photos of her son, Brant, pointing out one where he's playing in the bathtub. She picks up another photo on the table, "The first time he played baseball was really adorable!" Today, Jennifer should be celebrating another summer of baseball. Instead, she's reflecting on the one year anniversary of her son's tragic death.

She says it's been a devastating year. "There's nothing you can do. There's no way to explain it. It's heartbreaking." Jennifer can barely put her pain into words. 16-year old Brant died working out on a treadmill June 8th of 2010; they didn't realize he had enlarged heart disease. "He's always been in baseball, football, any activity he could get into he pretty much stayed in. It's been rough but I' m trying to get the word out so other parents don't have to go what I've been through. Everyone needs testing if they're out playing sports because it could happen to anyone, anytime."

Dr. Jayant Eldurker is the Medical Director of the Center of Occupational Medicine in Evans. He says heart screenings are a part of athlete physicals every year. "[Heart disease] is actually quite infrequent, but when it happens it's quite devastating." He always checks for symptoms of an enlarged heart. "Our screenings have gotten much better and decreased these rates. But when it happens you don't expect it." He looks for five specific signs while evaluating an athlete for heart disease: heart murmurs, high blood pressure, chest pain, shortness of breath, and fainting.

Mike Vandenabeele is the tennis director at Petersburg Raquet Club. He says safety is a priority during their intense summer camps. "We have a great staff of lifeguards that do have to go through their lifeguard training and their resuscitation course and all that stuff. So fortunately we are prepared for an incident like that." Petersburg players are told to take frequent breaks inside and in the shade, and they require everyone to have a jug of water during practice.

"Be prepared," encourages Jennifer. "Have AEDs. Not just have AEDs, but make sure someone can get to them. Make sure someone knows how to use them, is trained with them." She says any school, church, gym, or athletic facility that may work with active children needs to have an AED.

Jennifer hopes to help spare another parent the pain of loosing a child to heart disease. "Just one parent listening to us and going to get their kid checked often. I mean, it may be a little more money, but it's well worth your child's life."

Even if your kid isn't an athlete it's important to get their heart checked. Doctor's Hospital offers $75 screenings on their mobile heart bus. One Atlanta group called Heart Screens for Teens sets up free group screenings, too.

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