Heart screening tests find defects in young athletes

REMINDER: Heart screening this Sunday, February 23rd, at the Kingdom Builders Center - 6011 West Orem Drive from 11am-2pm.

Tiffany Pennington proudly displays pictures of her 13-year old baseball star son, Zane.

“All the way from first grade up to his current year, which is seventh grade," Tiffany says.

On the baseball field, Zane is almost unstoppable. But as powerful and healthy as he looks on the outside, on the inside, Zane was running around with a time-bomb in his chest. A hidden heart defect no one knew he had. A condition that could have killed him at any moment.

Tiffany says her son showed no symptoms. “None, none whatsoever, and that’s what’s so important is that I had no idea anything was wrong with him.”

Luckily for Zane, just days before he was to start playing football, his mother took him to the Cameron Juniel Project heart check, held last August and sponsored, in part, by KPRC Channel 2. That’s where Zane was given a life-saving electrocardiogram test, a test that goes lightyears beyond the standard high school sports exam.

“If we hadn’t found the heart screening and taken him to get checked,” Tiffany says, “we would never have known and if had started playing football, he could have died on the football field.”


Now, thanks to the efforts of Scott Stephens, whose own son, Cody, died from a hidden heart defect, Texas has a brand new law that, for the first time, allows parents to request their children be given an electrocardiogram test as part of their require UIL physical exam. The tests are not mandatory, just another option for parents.

“It’s an opt-in,” says Stephens. “And even if you opt in, it’s not going to delay your kid going to practice or going to games.”

The parents are responsible for paying for the test, just as they pay for the regular physical. And the UIL includes information about heart health and the different screenings available.

“There’s gonna be a question on the physical form that’s going to be out this spring that says 'do you want your child to have an ECG,” says Stephens. “And there’s gonna be a box that says ‘yes’ and you will check it and then the doctor will take it from there.”


Our next heart screening event takes place Feb. 23, at the Kingdom Builders Center at 6011 West Orem Drive from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., You can register your child now by clicking here.