Bonney Lake High School to host heart screening event

Health: College volleyball player’s death puts more urgency on prevention

of the HeraldMarch 19, 2014 

When Madison Murphy started her freshman year at Central Washington University in 2012, she was at the top of her volleyball game.

But on April 18, 2013, without warning, Murphy died of sudden cardiac arrest. She was 19.

In her memory, Jane Mack, a friend of Murphy’s family, connected with the Mill Creek-based Nick of Time Foundation to bring an on-site heart screening event to Bonney Lake High School.

Murphy graduated from Bonney Lake High School in 2012. The Nick of Time Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to prevent heart disease among children and young adults, expedited Mack’s request.

“Madison was incredible,” Mack said. “We’re hoping to get so much community support that it can be a sustaining program.”

Nick of Time was founded in memory of Nick Varrenti, who died of sudden cardiac arrest when he was 16. Varrenti was a multi-sport athlete in high school. To outside observers, he appeared to be healthy.

One high school-aged athlete suffers a sudden cardiac arrest every three days in the United States, according to the Nick of Time Foundation. The leading cause of death among high school athletes is an undetected heart condition, the nonprofit reported.

Mack wants to establish a sustainable program to help prevent heart conditions that go undetected among student-athletes. And she hopes the event this month will be a start.

“We’re hoping that our community could offer it again with the help of Franciscan Health System,” Mack said. “They are on board to hopefully have it be part of athletic physicals. Right now, it is not part of athletic physicals because of the cost and the training needed.”

Mack said responsibility falls on her shoulders, as well as for the community to bring as many resources together as possible.

Agencies that have agreed to help facilitate the screenings include East Pierce Fire and Rescue, the Valley Regional Fire Authority No. 30 of King County and Franciscan Health System, Mack said.

Franciscan will provide 15 physicians, Mack said, and 10 doctors from the Nick of Time Foundation will help, Mack said.

“Doctors that are coming are being trained by Dr. Jonathan Drezner, medical director at the foundation,” she said.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue will provide medics and EMTs who will perform vital checks of the students who go through the screening.

Valley Regional Fire Authority, where Mack’s husband works as a firefighter, will support the CPR and Automatic External Defibrillation education center. Students from Central Washington University and Bonney Lake High School also will help at that station.

“They will be teaching students hands-on CPR and how to use an AED,” Mack said.

The event will be open to 300 people ages 14-24 on a first-come, first-served basis.

A heart screening consists of a survey that asks about possible symptoms and family history, according to the foundation. Students will receive an electrocardiogram that will analyze their heart’s electrical signals.

“They either get cleared and go back to class, or they get an echocardiogram of the heart,” Mack said.

Mack thanked the various agencies and Sumner School District assistant Superintendent Craig Spencer, who helped to get the event rolling.

Spencer knew a young athlete at a Lynwood high school who recently died of sudden cardiac arrest.

“I know Madison’s mother would want this, because at every screening, they find two or three students (who need treatment),” Mack said. “The numbers are staggering. The symptoms are hidden.”

If you go

The screening will be offered to ages 14-24 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. March 28. There are 300 openings available. Registration information is available at Bonney Lake High School’s main office. Jane Mack said additional medical support would be needed in order to increase the number of openings. For more information, visit www.nickoftimefoundation.org. To offer additional support, email jane_mack@sumnersd.org.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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