Teenager urges parents to get EKG testing for children who play sports

Andrew Lorenzen diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome

MIAMI – A South Florida teenager went for a simple EKG test at Nicklaus Children's Hospital when he was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, also known as WPW.

"My mother saw a commercial on TV for an EKG screening at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, and even though I was reluctant and complaining a lot about going in on a Friday afternoon to have what I thought was a useless test, I'm definitely thankful that she made that decision because it ended up saving my life," Andrew Lorenzen said.

If WPW goes undetected, it can be fatal for someone who plays sports.

"The only reason that I'm standing here today is because of the remarkable time, commitment and passion of every single person who works in these halls," Lorenzen said.

After two days in the hospital, Lorenzen's life was saved.

Claudia Vergara wasn't so lucky when she learned her daughter was diagnosed with the same syndrome.

"My daughter passed away at the age of 11 in 2014. She suddenly collapsed and she went into cardiac arrest. At the time, we didn't know, but the results came back that she had Wolff-Parkinson-White," Vergara said. 

In efforts to make a difference, the Breanna Vergara Foundation was born.

"We helped the hospital to give free EKGs to schools, to organizations (and) to children who are playing sports," Vergara said.

Dr. Anthony Rossi, who is the director of cardiovascular medicine at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, is hoping everyone spreads the message to get tested.

"One in a thousand times we’re going to find something important and when we find that one patient -- that one in a thousand -- we can save them," Rossi said. 

Every three days, the life of a young student-athlete is lost due to cardiac arrest. Doctors said a simple and free EKG screening can help save a life before it's too late.

"Get EKG testing. It's important, it can save your life and it only takes five minutes and it's easy, and listen to your mom," Lorenzen advised.

Click here for more information about the Breanna Vergara Foundation and how to get free EKG testing for your child. 

About the Author:

Nicole Perez is the the primary co-anchor of Local 10 News at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. She first joined Local 10 in July 2016 as the morning traffic reporter.