15th September, 2010
His sonâ€™s heart stopped at a football game last week, now one father wants to change the wayÂ other high school athletes are screened for potentially life-threatening heart conditions.
Hayward Demison III was given a clean bill of health at the beginning of this yearâ€™sÂ football season. In fact, all student athletes have to be prescreened. There is a lengthyÂ checklist that needs to be filled out but thereâ€™s no requirement for a cardiac screening.
That is something Demisonâ€™s father, Hayward Demison Jr., said he wants to change.
The 17-year-old Demison is now recovering at home after he suffered a heart attack at lastÂ Friday nightâ€™s football game. He is waiting for open-heart surgery next week.
The Central Catholic High School football player had just scored the winning touchdown inÂ the fourth quarter. Then his heart started racing. He said on Saturday from his hospitalÂ room that he used his inhaler but that made it worse.
â€œI got back up and I was trying to breathe a lot more, then the next thing you know, I feltÂ dizzy,â€ he said.
He collapsed and was revived two minutes later. Hayward was diagnosed with a heart conditionÂ that one doctor had previously told him was asthma.
â€œI just really checked asthma (on the prescreening checklist) because thatâ€™s what I wasÂ diagnosed my freshman year,â€ he said.
Student athletes in Oregon are required to get a physical exam every two years. Theyâ€™reÂ asked questions like, â€œHave you had a broken bone â€¦ a head injury or even a heartÂ condition.â€
But not knowing about his heart, Demison never checked that box.
â€œI donâ€™t want any parent to go through this ever,â€ said Demisonâ€™s father.
Demisonâ€™s father knows his story isnâ€™t the first. Five years ago another Central CatholicÂ student, David Heller, died in his sleep from an enlarged heart after a basketball game. AndÂ Grant High School student Eddie Barnettâ€™s heart failed during a basketball game.
â€œI could have been one of them,â€ Demison said.Knowing that, Demisonâ€™s dad says heâ€™s fightingÂ to make heart screenings mandatory.
â€œI want this a law, and I wonâ€™t stop,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m going to push it that no other family -Â starting in Oregon and across the United States – has to go through it.â€
David Hellerâ€™s mom created a foundation after her sonâ€™s death. Annually, they offer heartÂ screenings for student athletes. More than 300 people went to the last event in May.Â Haywardâ€™s dad wants to make sure every student athlete is screened.
â€œThe laws need to change,â€ he said. â€œIt needs to get out there that we need to change theseÂ laws and make it a part of the physical that they have to get their heart checked.â€