This Autumn, in November, it will be four years since our beloved Daniel who was well and happy, walked into the bathroom and collapsed into cardiac arrest. Immediate CPR did not save him.
Four years later, I am still bringing you how we survive this journey without him, and of other families for whom this journey sadly begins now.
Last evening, Ronald Rouse, a senior lineman for the Hartsfield Red Foxes, collapsed during the second quarter of the game. Ronald,6'3" tall and 320 pounds, would have been eighteen years old in about ten more days. He had been involved in a tackle and stayed on the ground longer than expected. Then, he was escorted by officials to the sidelines where he collapsed. Coaching staff began to work on his pulseless body immediately, and eventually a defibrillator was used. Emergency Medical Services arrived and he was transported to a hospital. The principal ended the game when it was realized how serious the situation with Ronald really was. Ronald was pronounced dead.last evening. Darlington County coroner will be performing an autopsy today.
Perhaps I should have noticed before losing Daniel, but far more sudden deaths of young people, often playing sports, have occurred and are not entered into a specific sudden death statistic database. No one can really tell us how often this is happening, yet there is never a shortage of young people who died in a manner similar to Daniel.
The autopsy on Ronald has not yet been done, but I can tell you what it will likely say. It will either note a slightly enlarged heart possibly due to a virus, and the theory will be that Ronald died of a heart rhythm disturbance. They could possibly find an undetected heart malformation, as is also sometimes detected as a cause of sudden cardiac death. Or, Ronald's autopsy result could be like Daniel's, which is a completely normal heart with no anomalies, no malformations, and clean coronary arteries, that simply fell into a rhythm which was incompatible with life. There is also a syndrome known as Commotio Cordis in which a person is hit in the chest either by a ball or I suppose by another person, and the blow comes during the essential "t" wave or rest period of the heart, and this triggers what becomes a lethal arrhythmia.
Today, my prayers are with the people and students of Hartsdale, South Carolina, and most especially the parents and family of Ronald Rouse. This is a loss for them which simply begins today, and will last a lifetime, even with abundant faith in our God. . Ronald is remembered by students at the school as "a really stand-up young man".
We must do better as a nation in terms of educating families, coaches, physicians, and students on sudden cardiac death. We need to have AEDs present at all practices and all games. We will still not save everyone, but we may save more of our precious young people than we do now. We need to make sure that every child who plays sports, be it soccer, baseball, football, track, etc. gets an EKG first. Again, we will not save everyone, because even with an advance EKG to playing sports, some arrhythmias simply do not occur until a possibly unique set of stressful circumstances occur creating a lethal heart rhythm. But, if there is anything we can do to avoid the loss of some young life, and to avoid this experience for another family, then I would do it without hesitation.
Update: October 6, 2012 6 pm
As I had speculated above as to Ronald's death, I wanted to update actual factual material as soon as possible, as soon as available. Darlington County, SC Coroner J.Todd Hardee announced today that Ronald's autopsy indicated that he had a congenitally enlarged heart, and that his cause of death was an apparent sudden arrhythmia or heart rhythm disturbance.
I send my condolences, my prayers, and best thoughts to the family of this young man and to his friends and teammates.