Hidden heart problems claim the lives of many seemingly healthy young adults every year. Who can forget Wes Leonard of Michigan making the overtime winning basket only to collapse and die on the basketball court in front of his family and friends? In 2005, my son, Max, died suddenly and unexpectedly, too. He had helped me get a dresser to the garage for a yard sale, told ne he loved me and went off to work. Those were the last words he ever said to me. The next time I saw him was in the emergency room of the hospital where he had been born 20 years before, but this time he was being pronounced dead. “How could this be?” was followed by “How can this be prevented?” A simple, non-invasive EKG test can detect 40-50% of the conditions that can lead to sudden cardiac death, yet routine preventive screening is not part of our children’s physicals. The Max Schewitz Foundation provided nearly 45,000 EKG tests and more than 400 free echocardiograms to high school and college students in Chicago’s northern suburbs. Over 800 required further medical evaluation. By following the latest interpretation standards the incidence of false positives in greatly reduced so that your child will only need further testing if warranted. 98% of EKGs will be within normal limits, but for kids like Max and Wes, that 1-2% is the difference between life and death. Please talk to your physician about getting an EKG test for your child. You might be surprised that this test, though often not covered by insurance, costs less than a trip to the vet for your pet, or a nice dinner in a restaurant. If your child is one of the few with a hidden heart condition wouldn’t you rather find out this way?
Today, thanks to the Max Schewitz Foundation, my children live normal lives, participate in physician-approved sports, and can expect to live a normal lifespan. I'm not sure when or under what possibly painful circumstances we might have otherwise learned about their diagnosis. Mary Beth truly cares about identifying at-risk children before they are stricken. — Monica
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