Local hospital offers free cardiac screening for children

After boy's death, EKG screening reminder for parents

Kaleb Harris was jogging at Miami Northwestern Senior High School's track when he collapsed. The 11-year-old boy had fallen before, but he had persevered. Some begged him to get up, Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius "Iggy" Carroll said. But Harris couldn't.

Harris stopped breathing while warming up during a meeting with the Metro Dade Track Club, which he had recently joined. When firefighters arrived, they performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rushed him to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where his dreams of becoming a pastor ended.

His death was a reminder of what killed Breanna Vergara, also 11 years old when she suffered a cardiac arrest during dance practice last year. After learning she had died of a congenial heart failure, her parents have been advocating for cardiac screening to help save lives

Sudden cardiac deaths are rare, but some pediatricians do advise parents to get children with a family history of disease to undergo an electrocardiogram, a test designed to spot some fatal heart conditions. But there is a powerful push against mass EKG screening, so voluntary screening remains the norm. 

Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital's U18 Sports Medicine program offers the screening at no cost to parents or guardians. The exam, which records the heart's electrical activity, is a must if the child is experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath, according to pediatricians. 

The echocardiogram is the latest technology. The screening, an ultrasound, produces more clear images of the heart that according to the American Heart Association show the heart's chambers, valves, walls and the blood vessels attached to the heart. 

For information on how to schedule an appointment for a free electrocardiogram screening at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, call 954-265-0354. 



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