CONCORD, NC (FOX 46) - There is a test to detect a heart condition that one Concord teen who collapsed on the basketball court has, but those types of heart screenings aren’t available in every area school district, and they’re not available to all students.
Tyler Brock lived for basketball. Number 5 was going at it hard on the court, like he did often, and no one knew the 16-year old had a heart condition that could kill him.
“It was really a scary, scary moment,” said Tyler’s mom, Shawanna Brock.
Tyler collapsed, slamming into the bleachers, during a basketball game this past December.
His mom and his dad, Dietrich Brock, looked on as their son lay lifeless.
“For us, it was like his heart’s not working? Beat, beat, I need your heart to beat,” Shawanna said.
“Just to be honest, any father that would lose your only son, I couldn’t, didn’t want to imagine that,” Dietrich said.
Just as Tyler’s parents were losing hope, two heroes stepped in.
“If the people hadn’t responded as quickly as they did, he wouldn’t be here,” Shawanna said.
Concord Police Officer Corey Hynson did chest compressions, and Tyler’s coach Rodney Smith called for the defibrillator to shock Tyler’s heart and bring him back to life.
“We were just praying, praying, praying and our prayers were answered,” Shawanna said.
“To be honest, I’m still crying,” Dietrich said.
Months later Tyler is recovering diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood. Tyler had surgery to implant a pacemaker to keep his heart rate normal and a defibrillator.
“It’s going to be hard to adapt too, sometimes I want to ask my parents can I go play basketball, and I forget that I can’t,” Tyler said.
Sports are no longer an option for Tyler. “I’m an active person, and I love playing sports and now I know I have limits on what I can do.”
The first sign of the condition for many young people is sudden collapse or even death.
“It’s happening too frequently with boys and girls, and a lot of people aren’t as lucky as us to still have their child with them,” Shawanna said.
But there is a way to detect the problem before it ends in tragedy through heart screenings.
“We’re going to pick up most everything that’s predisposing to sudden death through that,” Tyler’s doctor, Richard Smith said.
Dr. Smith said a type of screening known as an echocardiogram will detect hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
That’s why the “Heart of a Champion” program was started in Mecklenburg and some other area counties, including York, Lincoln, and Union, to give student-athletes free heart tests, but the screenings aren’t available everywhere.
The school Tyler attends in Cabarrus County does not currently have the “Heart of a Champion” program, but a district spokesperson tells Fox 46 Charlotte they are working with their medical provider to try and get that program in place for student-athletes on school sports teams across the county
“It’s a big commitment on people and equipment, and it’s thought nationwide to be impractical,” Dr. Smith said.
“Even if it’s only one person out of 2,000 people, that’s one person’s life that you made a big difference in, one family that won’t have to go through something like we went through, one family that won’t have to prepare to bury their child because they’re not as lucky as ours,” Shawanna said.
Seventeen students were found to have heart issues at the “Heart of a Champion” day in 2015, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
“I think there’s a wealth of people out there that wouldn’t mind giving their time for something like this,” Shawanna said.
Doctors and nurses volunteer, and corporations pitch in to sponsor “Heart of a Champion” day.
Carolinas HealthCare System sent us the following statement about expanding the program:
We are currently at capacity for the number of Heart of a Champion Day events we can host given staff available to plan such an event. We would consider entertaining requests from other communities to expand the screenings if our staffing levels change in the future.
Tyler’s brush with death has reaffirmed what he wants to do with his life - be a doctor.
“Maybe I can help people that in the future possibly have the same condition I do.”
A hidden heart danger that can be found through testing, something Tyler didn’t have, something his family wants for others.
Tyler’s mom will keep reminding her son he got what most people don’t--a second chance at life.
“There are cases where sudden death happens, and that’s just the end. That wasn’t your end.”