Free lifesaving heart tests being offered to children, young adults this weekend

The Cody Stephens Foundation, KPRC2 partnering on lifesaving project

HOUSTON – At 19 years old, six-foot-one-inches tall and incredibly strong and powerful, Julieta Valdez is a gifted volleyball player.

Just three years ago, the Woodlands High School varsity volleyball player was one of the best in the nation and poised for greatness.

”I was ranked number 18 in the country. I had multiple division one offers, and I played on my high school varsity team as a freshman. So, in my mind I thought I was going to play Division One volleyball one day,” Julieta said.

But then it happened, right there at home, in the middle of a strenuous workout, Julieta suddenly went into cardiac arrest, brought on by a hidden heart defect that no one knew she had.

Her heart stopped. Everything stopped.

”I was pale, I wasn’t breathing, my eyes were shot. I went without a pulse for about 27 minutes. I was clinically dead,” Julieta said.

In an instant, Julieta went from an athletic high school superstar to fighting for her life on a heart and lung machine.

She spent four weeks in the hospital, had to have heart surgery and had a pacemaker implanted in her chest.

Now, she has committed herself to helping to screen teen athletes everywhere for hidden heart defects and she will be part of the “Surviving SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest) Teen Heart Screen with Harris County ESD 11.″

KPRC 2 is partnering with Julieta and her nonprofit organization, The Cody Stephens Foundation, and Harris Co. ESD 11 to offer this totally free teen heart screening to children.

This event, which is open to all athletes and others ages 11 to 25 years old, will be held Sunday, April 2, from noon to 4 p.m. at 18334 Stuebner Airline Road in Spring.

Here, every teen athlete will be taught how to do CPR and undergo a fast, painless, electrocardiogram test.

An in-depth heart test that normally would cost you hundreds of dollars is being offered for free.

Julieta knows just how close she came to dying, and knows that a simple, five-minute heart screen could have saved her lots of trauma.

Her message to every parent out there is clear: get your kid screened, because hidden heart defects are just that - hidden! You won’t see them coming.

”I would say the numbers don’t lie. It’s the leading cause of death for student athletes. So, even the healthiest, most promising athletes can succumb to sudden cardiac arrest,” Julieta said.

You can register your child ASAP for this free heart screening event by clicking this link.

Free community heart screening (KPRC)

About the Author:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.