This is very exciting and a very proud moment for us at Simon’s Fund. You rarely get a warning sign with Sudden Cardiac Arrest – but fainting is the # 1 indicator. If this legislation passes, we will have a protocol in place for handling a child that faints, feels dizzy or has an elevated heart rate with shortness of breath. Hopefully this will shift the thought process away from “you must be dehydrated” or “maybe you didn’t eat enough today” towards the more appropriate response of “it may be nothing, but let’s get you checked out by a cardiologist.” We are also seeking parallel legislation in the Senate….Please help us by contacting your Senator and/or Representative – a list can be found here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/.
By MELISSA BROOKS
Times Herald Staff
NORRISTOWN — State Rep. Mike Vereb, R-150th Dist., delivered a bill to the House floor Wednesday that aims to prevent sudden cardiac arrest in student athletes.
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Prevention Act, or House Bill 1610, currently has 40 co-sponsors. The legislation calls for student athletes, who either exhibit signs or symptoms of SCA while participating in their sport or who have exhibited signs or symptoms of SCA prior to or following an athletic activity, to be removed from play until they provide written approval from an appropriate health care professional.
In addition, the SCA Prevention Act will require the health and education departments to educate athletes, parents and coaches on SCA and to provide materials developed by organizations such as Parent Heart Watch and Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes.
“There have been too many news stories of student athletes who have died way before their time as a result of sudden cardiac arrest,” Vereb wrote in an emailed statement.
“As a father of three — all of whom participate in school sports — I know the fear a parent feels when their child is hurt during practice or a game. The safety and well-being of our children needs to be a top priority. My legislation ensures that appropriate measures are taken when a student athlete shows symptoms of distress and will help identify health problems before it is too late.”
Behind the bill is local nonprofit organization Simon’s Fund, founded by husband and wife Darren and Phyllis Sudman, whose seemingly healthy 3-month-old baby boy, Simon, died in January 2005 of sudden cardiac arrest. Since then, Simon’s Fund has provided heart screenings to more than 2,100 children in the Greater Philadelphia area, saving the lives of 20 children.
In August 2010 Akhir Frazier collapsed at the Hank Gathers Recreation Center in North Philly and died four days later. It was later determined Frazier had an inherited heart defect called cardiomyopathy, and that’s what led to his sudden cardiac arrest.
His death prompted Simon’s Fund to set up a free heart screening at Norristown Area High School, where the former basketball standout would have begun his junior year.
Sudman said 227 students received an ECG (electrocardiogram) exam on Oct. 30, 2010, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia cardio team on site at the school recommended 13 students receive further testing. One of them was 13-year-old Kyle McCabe of Norristown, who as a result of the screening learned he has long QT syndrome, the heart rhythm disorder that caused baby Simon’s death.