Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCD) – Playing with heart

Many of us know about the tragic story of Wes Leonard, a student-athlete at Fennville High School outside of Detroit, who after hitting the game winning shot that ensured his basketball team’s perfect season, collapsed and died. This seemingly incomprehensible twist of fate shocked family, friends, and the general community at-large. We were taken by the stories of this fine young man, the feeling of exhilaration of winning in sports, but also the suddenness in which life can be lost.

Teammates hoist Wes Leonard up after he hit the game-winning basket, March 3, 2011 as the Fennville (Mich.) Blackhawks celebrate their victory against the Bridgman Bees, bringing their record to 20-0. (AP)

In addition to this mix of emotions, what Wes’s story brings to the forefront is discussion of how we can possibly do more to at least minimize the risk of this happening again. We came across an initiative that is addressing the issue of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), an initiative that could possibly be replicated around the country. What will be needed, as seen in the efforts of the Ranney School, is a multi-party approach that includes the school, parents, companies, and non-profits working together to educate upfront and be ready if a student is in need of emergency help. We are seeing such an approach employed in other areas of sport and development and are confident we will see success at Ranney and other schools and communities around the country.

To read the full release at PR Newsire, “Ranney Promotes Healthy Initiatives and State-of-the-Art Heart Screenings for Athletes,” please click here. An excerpt is included below.


Ranney School recently announced a series of heart-healthy initiatives that launched during American Heart Awareness Month and will continue throughout the school year. Most significant is the chance for Ranney spring varsity athletes to receive state-of-the-art cardiology screenings on campus designed to identify and evaluate dangerous heart murmurs that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCD) in young athletes. Although SCD in young athletes is rare, Ranney is taking the initiative to educate its athletes and their families at a time when SCD continues to make national headlines and has caused great concern.

According Shant Hovnanian, Chairman of Zargis Medical Inc., Ranney is the first school to take part in the “Project HeartRox” outreach program aimed to bring this technology to thousands of schools nationwide and help eliminate SCD among athletes in our schools. “Ranney’s collaboration with a local medical center, medical personnel and nonprofit health organizations is a model for other schools to follow,” Hovnanian said. He also referenced the American Heart Association’s 12-step screening process, which may also help reduce SCD.