LAPORTE | Student athletes in LaPorte are being given a chance to have heart screenings at no cost after classmate Jake West died after collapsing at football practice from an undiagnosed heart condition.
The free screenings by IU Health LaPorte hospital is in recognition of National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month in October.
The death of the 17-year-old LaPorte Slicers linebacker Sept. 25 also factored into the decision, said Laura Gould, a hospital spokeswoman.
“It brought awareness to the community and we wanted to fill a community need,” Gould said.
The screenings are being offered on a limited basis.
They are scheduled between 4 and 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; and from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 2.
Advance registration is required by calling (219) 326-2309.
Students must have signed parental consent and not be under the care of a physician for any cardiac-related conditions, according to hospital officials.
Student athletes will undergo specialized tests to help identify any possible structural abnormalities within the cardiovascular system that may lead to premature cardiac arrest.
"Recent events have brought the issue of Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) to the forefront,” said Mary Drewes, IU Health LaPorte hospital director of cardiovascular services.
''The tragic loss of one of our community’s student athletes has prompted many questions, fears and a sense of helplessness. Our cardiologists, in collaboration with our team in Cardiovascular Services, look forward to providing these screenings.'' she said.
In addition, cardiologists and specialists will present a heart and vascular education session at 6 p.m. Monday at the LaPorte High School Auditorium for freshman and sophomore parents and at 7 p.m. for junior and senior parents.
West died of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a genetic thinning of the right ventricle walls in which the area thinned turns to fat, leaving the heart unable to pump blood.
West's father, Scott West, said the family is trying to stay strong and taking things day by day.
''No one knew Jake had a bad heart,'' he said.