KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital are still trying to figure out what caused an Olathe West pitcher to go into cardiac arrest while playing in baseball game Monday at Blue Valley Southwest.
Brennan Connell collapsed on the mound and was brought back to life after bystanders used an AED.
But sometimes heart defects that cause sudden cardiac arrest can be caught early with the proper screening. That was the case for Molly Wiskur.
“It makes me who I am today, and yeah, I think you have to wear it with pride,” the 20-year-old said of a scar that runs down the middle of her chest.
It’s one her favorite accessories, the result of open heart surgery when she was a junior in high school.
An athlete at Shawnee Mission South High School, Wiskur was a cheerleader, played soccer and ran track.
The then 17-year-old tagged along with her football playing brother to a heart scan — and that saved her life.
“So my mom just happened to say, ‘Oh Molly, you know you should go too. It wouldn’t hurt,'” Wiskur said. ”And then a week later after the screening, I was called saying I had two holes and a cleft in my mitral valve. Honestly, I was in shock.”
Eric Schroeder is the man who found Wiskur’s heart defects.
His company, Athletic Testing Solutions, does heart screenings on people 8-25 years old, looking for genetic abnormalities and hidden heart conditions, specifically electrical and structural performance of the heart.
“You never know who is drawing the straw and ends up with a heart condition,” Schroeder said. “They can slip through physicals, never know anything about it down to even a murmur that they hear, that can be a valve problem or something like that.”
Ten percent of the people Schroeder tests have some kind of condition; one-and-a-half percent have significant conditions that could kill them.
“I have been super healthy and no symptoms, no problems,” Wiskur said. “I could have continued just making it by or gone into cardiac arrest. I think I got so lucky.”
Besides studying journalism at KU, Wiskur also is a spokesperson for Strive for Life and Beats for Beats, two organizations dedicated to increasing awareness about the importance of heart screenings for young people.
Information about Athletic Testing Solutions can be found on the company’s website. St. Luke’s Hospital also has a similar heart clinic.