The Legacy of Wes Leonard

I just completed reading an article in Sports Illustrated “The Legacy of Wes Leonard,” Wes was a high school basketball player who collapsed and died following making the winning shot in a championship basketball game. The autopsy showed he had arrythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy which results in the right ventricle walls becoming thinner and is replaced by scar and fat tissue which disrupts the hearts electrical forces.

One of the saddest parts of this story was the lack of preparation for an emergency. The school is in a small town in Michigan with no mention of an Athletic Trainer being present, but an emergency department nurse was present and responded from the concession stands.. The principal went to retrieve the AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) “in a pile of unused athletic supplies” because of prior problems with tampering. The pads were applied by the nurse, “But the machine made no sound. The battery was dead.”

A life perhaps could have been saved and the mother began The Wes Leonard Heart Team which teaches others how to avoid this type of tragedy. Too often this happens and highlights the need for AED’s in place and monitored, trained professionals present such as Athletic Trainers, CPR & AED training with certification of coaches and all who work with our athletes as well as a formal, printed and practiced Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

March is National Athletic Trainers Month with the theme “Athletic Trainers Save Lives.” Thank you to all who serve.

Published on February 22, 2012