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A heart’s desire to help others

“All people need to be aware that this can happen. My heart’s desire is to prevent other athletes and their loved ones from suffering this tragedy,” Frazier said.

That’s a purpose shared by the Cookeville chapter of the Mended Hearts organization, established here in 1997.

Made up of heart disease patients, their families and others impacted by heart disease, the national nonprofit organization was created to provide education.

The organization here also provides automated external defibrillators to schools, churches and other groups.

An AED like those provided by the organization was reportedly used on Roach before he was transported to Cookeville Regional cheap jerseys Medical Center.

“It’s impossible to say how many lives we’ve saved by giving these out, but there are more AEDs here than there are anywhere else in the Upper Cumberland,” said Blanche Smithers, president of Cookeville’s Mended Hearts chapter.

Although Tech purchased its own AEDs, Smith said Mended Hearts tries to provide one machine a month to a local church, school or other nonprofit agency.

“We’re giving out our 145th AED this month,” she said.

The machines don’t come cheap. Each one costs $1,300.

But the greatest advantage they offer is accessibility.

“We require CPR and AED training for the recipient organizations, but the AEDs are really self explanatory. When you open the lid, there are step by step instructions there that make it possible for anyone to use,” Smith said.

The machines have been provided to Algood and Baxter police departments, Cookeville and Putnam County high schools and middle schools and numerous churches.

“If it can save even one life, then we have accomplished what we are trying to do,” Smithers said.

Although it’s too late to save her own son’s life, that’s a sentiment with which Frazier can sympathize.

She said she thinks routine electrocardiograms during their annual physical exams could save the lives of other student athletes.

That test is not routinely performed, she said, because the rate of heart events are so low in such an otherwise healthy population.

But for the segment of student athletes who do suffer from such things, the test could be live saving.

“Every time I read of a town or a university instituting a policy of EKGs for its athletes, invariably, at least one of those athletes is found to have a heart problem. That is a life saved,” Frazier said.

Of the athletes that suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, only 5 percent survive, she pointed out. The Wofford player is in the lucky minority, but being in that minority shouldn’t be left up to chance, Frazier said.

“I don’t want anyone to end up where my family did,” she said.

Her family never knew about the heart defect that led to Jonathan’s demise until it was too late, she said.

“I had heard of a few cases of athletes dying suddenly, but I assumed incorrectly that there must have been prior knowledge of a heart problem for the athlete, prior family history of heart problems or at least prior symptoms,” Frazier said.

When he died, he was just starting his junior year at Lambuth.

“He’d had knee surgery in March before he died in August,” Frazier said.

In all of the medical testing involved with that surgery, doctors never discovered that Jonathan had a heart defect.

He was born missing a heart valve, which caused blood to flow back into his heart.

“When he was a child, I thought he got winded quickly for someone in such good condition. I took him for an asthma test and was told he didn’t have asthma,” Frazier said.

The family discovered the existence of the heart defect in the coroner’s report, Frazier said.

“We never knew that this bright, healthy, wonderful young man could be gone without a moment’s notice, nor that one simple test could have prevented tragedy,” she said.

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