Young adults and children have the opportunity to get a free heart screening next weekend thanks to the Devon’s Beat Foundation.
Sacred Heart School will host heart screenings for individuals 8 to 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 26 at the school, 416 W 3rd St. in Sedalia. The screenings are sponsored by Devon’s Beat and performed by Athletic Testing Solutions.
Devon’s Beat works to bring awareness and provide heart screenings for youth across Missouri and Arkansas. The foundation was started by Angela Parrott, of Lincoln, in 2013 after her son Devon was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome, which causes fast, chaotic heartbeats that can cause fainting, seizures or death.
“Back when he was 10 he was in school just walking down the hall and he fainted,” Parrott said. “He woke up on his own but we took him to the doctor and they thought he was probably dehydrated or maybe had low blood sugar or something like that.”
Parrott was asked if they wanted an EKG done just in case, which she did. Parrott said they were barely in the parking lot before “they were calling and saying you have a life-threatening heart condition called Long QT.”
Parrott said they were lucky to detect the condition early since most kids do not show signs of it.
“Mostly kids are fine,” she said. “You don’t know it. It’s not something that they wake up and they have a chest pain, like he had no idea he was completely healthy other than that...Devon never had any shortness of breath. He had been playing sports since he was 4 years old, he was a quarterback for the football team, he played soccer, basketball. Never had any trouble until then. That’s the main reason you don't want your kids to wait.”
Long QT syndrome is a type of Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS), which are genetic heart conditions that can cause sudden death in seemingly healthy young people. According to Parrott, the only way to find them is through an EKG or echocardiogram. Parrott did more research and discovered the conditions were not as uncommon as she thought. This led to start Devon’s Beat.
“Most of the people with the severe problems like what Devon has, they don’t find out until it’s too late,” said Parrott. “I just decided to start an awareness fundraiser. We started that in 2013 it’s a 5K, it’s always in the first weekend April. We’re just raising money to raise awareness.”
The foundation started doing screenings in 2014 and have screened close to 300 kids since then, according to Parrott. There are 56 individuals screened per event at no charge to participants thanks to Devon’s Beat. The screenings typically last 20 to 30 minutes and entail echocardiograms (heart ultrasound) and EKGs. The testing is “designed to identify congenital and genetic heart conditions that often go undetected or are misdiagnosed,” according to a press release.
Since his diagnosis, Devon has had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) implanted in his chest that has saved his life. While he has had to change several things, he still lives a normal life and is the kicker for the Lincoln football team.
“In the beginning, everything that Devon had to go through and quit all the sports and this and that. It was devastating...” Parrott said. “It gets better. He lives a full life and things in his life have changed. He has to do things differently but he still gets to do a lot of the things that he loves to do.”
Sacred Heart Principal Dr. Mark Register said he offered Sacred Heart School as a place to do the screenings after connecting with Parrott previously.
“It’s obviously not just for Sacred Heart kids, it’s for anybody...” Register said. “All Sacred Heart is really doing is making our facility available that day. It’s really Angela’s program, it’s her passion. She earns the money for it. It’s really all her. She’s the one who deserves all the accolades.”
Parrott urges parents to do the testing, if anything for the peace of mind.
“Why not know?” asked Parrott. “We hope we don't find anything but it’s a very good peace of mind. If you think your kids healthy, just do it. Get it over with. Get that peace of mind that they’re OK.”
For information or to register, visit facebook.com/DevonsBeat or contact Parrott at 660-287-2888.