ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – School leaders in both Orange and Volusia counties on Tuesday voted to require heart screenings for high school student-athletes who plan to play sports during the upcoming academic year.
According to a presentation from AdventHealth that was given during the Volusia County school board meeting, one in 300 student-athletes has a heart condition that could lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
The hospital system also said that sudden cardiac arrest claims 8,500 young lives each year and is the leading cause of death among student-athletes.
“We’re just imagining the worst. We were hearing bits and pieces, not really clear what happened other than her heart had stopped,” Jeff Bosset said. “It was the darkest time of my life for sure.”
Bosset spoke to News 6 about the moment he got a call that his 15-year-old daughter Julia collapsed during basketball tryouts at Seabreeze High in Daytona Beach last October.
“Nobody ever knew she had this electrical condition and we didn’t even know this was a thing until it happened,” Bosset said.
Dr. Gul Dadlani is the chief of pediatric cardiology at Nemours Children’s Hospital and said many common pre-existing heart conditions can be detected with an EKG.
“When a sudden cardiac arrest occurs, every single second counts because there’s no blood supply to the brain,” Dadlani said.
A school resource officer’s quick actions performing CPR and using an AED machine may have saved Julia’s life. But there are many students who didn’t survive a sudden cardiac arrest.
“Those are the voices that can’t speak. It makes you realize how important it is. The emotions come back. Every life is important,” Bosset said.
Julia was flown to Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, made a full recovery and is cheerleading. Her story was brought up during Volusia County’s School Board meeting Tuesday. The board voted to require heart screenings for students who want to participate in sports.
As part of Volusia County’s proposal, AdventHealth will partner with the nonprofit Who We Play For to provide electrocardiograms.
The district is taking a phased approach to allow student-athletes the option to opt out for the 2021-22 academic year but it would be required for the 2022-23 academic year and beyond.
In Orange County, ECGs to detect potentially dangerous heart conditions will be required for all high school student-athletes prior to start of the 2021-22 Florida High School Athletic Association season.
Events where students can get screened will be hosted on each high school campus in the summer, fall and winter.
The ECG will be good for all four years of high school and will be required for ninth grade students as well as older students who are enrolling in a sport for the first time.
“I have one daughter who suffered sudden cardiac arrest and she’s alive. If we can save the life of one person, that’s worth it to us,” Bosset said.
Who We Play For continues to call for all Florida counties to require heart screenings as part of the athletic physical to play sports for schools.
The Bosset family supports the organization and traveled to Tallahassee, lobbying for a bill requiring CPR and AED training at all Florida high schools.
That bill passed unanimously in the House (HB157) and Senate (SB280) this week and is now on the governor’s desk, awaiting a signature. The Bosset family said it’s another win for student-athletes in Florida.