Nick of Time Foundation Conducts Heart Screenings

BOTHELL, WA--It is unthinkable that two seemingly healthy high school students would collapse and die from sudden cardiac arrest, yet that's exactly what's happened.

In just the past month, two Washington teenagers died from sudden cardiac arrest.

Cody Sherrell, a 14-year-old from La Center, collapsed at basketball practice and later died.

And a month earlier, 15-year-old John Hayes suffered cardiac arrest on the school bus on the way home from Richland High School.

Stories like those spur on volunteers from the Nick of Time Foundation, named for another seemingly healthy teenager who died from a heart condition.

On Wednesday they hosted a heart screening clinic at Bothell High School.

Mom Kerry Godwin was there, looking on anxiously as her son, Connor, had an echocardiogram.

"Hoping that it's normal and it comes out normal," she said during the ultrasound.

Medics flagged Connor because his blood pressure was skyrocketing.

Nearby, Gabe Fedel was getting an electrocardiogram, or ECG.

The four-sport sixth grader is nationally ranked in cross country, but that's no guarantee his heart is healthy.

"He's a pretty good athlete, so the assumption is he would have a pretty good heart," said Gabe's dad, John Fedel. "But all the stories I've read about, you know, professional athletes drop dead from a heart condition.  We wanted to be 100 percent accurate that he's okay and doesn't have any heart conditions and can continue to do what he does everyday without any problems."

Nick Varrenti was also a thriving athlete and the picture of health.

The Mill Creek teenager died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2004.

His mother responded by starting these screening clinics.

"He had a whole future ahead of him, loved football more than anything," said Darla Varrenti.  "And it was a shock to our family that this could happen. And that it happens so often."

In the 18-months since the screening clinics began, Nick of Time has seen 5,000 young people and pinpointed 74 significant problems.

Gabe Fedel won't be one of them. Connor Godwin checks out too, but his mom will keep a close eye on him.

"It worries me because of our history of heart problems, so I will follow through," she said. "We'll check his blood pressure, maybe take him to the doctor."

They now have information that can be life-saving.

SOURCE: KOMONews.com

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