By Jill Fox
Thousands of healthy children unexpectedly suffer from undetected heart conditions.
According to Parent Heart Watch, one in 300 children has an undetected heart condition that puts them at risk for Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) at any time, including while they are playing sports.
Kate Bogue knows these statistics all too well. In 2016, her then six-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a congenital heart problem that could have caused her to suddenly collapse on the soccer field she frequented at any given time.
“I feel so fortunate that we were able to catch it before it became a worst-case scenario,” said Bogue. “Many families don’t have the same outcome that we did.”
SCA can lead to death in minutes if the person does not get help right away. Survival depends on people nearby calling 911, starting CPR, and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) as soon as possible.
Because of this, Bogue is working with Coral Springs Youth Soccer League to increase awareness of SCA and put an emergency action plan in place. She found that local city parks were not equipped with AEDs, and recreational sports leagues did not educate coaches and board members about the risks of SCA.
“When these fields are giant, and there are no AEDs nearby, precious time is wasted,” said Bogue, who learned that a city ordinance only requires the devices to be located indoors.
Bogue has been working with the soccer league to get AEDs centrally located close by so that in an emergency, someone can run, get it, and hook it up.
Through her involvement with Parent Heart Watch, she discovered One Beat, from whom her family was able to purchase and donate a new AED to the league at a discounted rate of about $1,000. Following this, One Beat donated two more refurbished AEDs to the league at no cost.
They now own three devices, which are kept in the concession stands at Mullins Park and Cypress Park for all games and practices.
The purpose was to have them located in a centralized spot and have all board members and coaches receive CPR and AED training. She said the odds are high that something like this could happen, and the goal is to have everyone aware of the emergency action plan and know how to respond.
Bogue said she hopes what they’re doing in Coral Springs causes other recreational leagues to follow and start to look out for their own safety.
“We’re lucky because, with our daughter, we caught it. There are plenty of other kids out there who can have these defects that people don’t catch, and they just suddenly collapse during a sporting event, and if no one around is prepared to respond, they will die.”
The ultimate goal for Bogue is for other recreational leagues to see that what Coral Springs Youth Soccer is doing is possible, and then, more and more recreational leagues will become safer.
Interested individuals can visit Parent Heart Watch for information on helping a school or sports league become safer.
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.
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