Tragedy prompts conversation for athlete heart testing

A local private school is suffering a tragic loss after one of their student athletes collapsed and died from an unknown heart condition.

Now the school is spearheading a campaign to give their students access to all possible screenings and testing to prevent something like this from happening again.

Fox 46 investigates a student athletic screening program for public school students and why its not being offered to all students in our area.

Some young athletes in high school could pass as college or professional athletes. But just because they look cut and fit on the outside, doesn't mean they are 100% on the inside.

Coaches and staff at Hickory Grove Christian Academy in Charlotte are still mourning the loss of one of their own students. After one of their basketball and football players died while jogging around his neighborhood, doctors say to an unknown heart condition.

It's something coaches and staff are more conscious of, as they train and push their athletes to their potential.
Which is why they want their student athletes to have access to every test and preventative treatment available. To hopefully catch an underlying condition before its too late.

Heart of a Champion is a program within Carolinas HealthCare System that tests the heart of athletes within CMS schools. It's something parents at Hickory Grove Christian, a private school were told is only available to public school students, not private school students.

Parents and administrators at Hickory Grove were concerned that their student athletes wouldn't have access to a preventative program like Heart of a Champion. Fox 46 reached out to Carolinas HealthCare to find out why their program is only for public school kids.

Statement from Carolina's HealthCare:

"We were saddened to hear of the hickory grove athlete who recently lost his life. In Mecklenburg County, Carolinas HealthCare System's Heart of a Champion day screenings are provided as part of a larger relationship with Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools that includes having a certified athletic trainer on site at high schools throughout the school year. We offer the screenings free of charge to the athletes and Carolinas HealthCare System absorbs all costs associated with the equipment and staff time required. The screenings are not supported with public funds of any kind. Schools interested in exploring sports medicine relationships may directly contact Carolinas HealthCare System."

The typical athletic physical for student athletes is usually done by a primary care doctor or pediatrician. And while they test and check what they can, they don't have the equipment that can determine most underlying heart conditions.

While Heart of a Champion can trace the hearts electrical activity through an ECG, they can't find every heart condition. But teachers and coaches at Hickory Grove say anything is better than nothing when it comes to keeping their kids safe.

Carolinas HealthCare System has opened the door to conversation from schools other than public schools to potentially use their Heart of a Champion program in the future.