Advice & Features Articles

Life-Saving Heart Screenings and a Foundation with a Heart to Save Lives

By Alicia Wanek

If someone told you 20 minutes and $55 could save your child’s life, would it be worth it?

A Living for Zachary heart screening at The Heart Hospital in Plano, Denton or McKinney can do just that.  They offer a non-invasive procedure including an electrocardiogram, a limited screening echocardiogram, blood pressure screening and a sudden cardiac arrest risk health questionnaire, all reviewed and interpreted by a board-certified cardiologist for children ages 12 to 22.  A call to 1-800-4BAYLOR can help you set up the appointment.

When Karen Schrah lost her son to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at age 16 during football practice, she decided to live out Zachary’s own words to keep others from suffering the same tragedy.  In an essay written shortly before his death, he had penned these words, “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”  Karen’s mission to help parents identify cardiac risks in their children and to ensure facilities have automated external defibrillators and proper training on their use has helped Zachary’s legacy to live on through the Living for Zachary Foundation.

Local mom Lari Wise says, “We’re most grateful to the Living for Zachary Foundation and especially grateful for Karen spring-boarding off her own personal tragedy to save the lives of so many other children.  Without that heart screening, my daughter Makenzie would most likely have also had a sudden cardiac arrest.”

Prompted by a friend who had had a Living for Zachary screening, Lari took her 15-year-old in during the holiday break to The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.  Makenzie was active on the drill team at school and looking forward to trying out for the senior high squad.  Three days later, the cardiologist called to tell them Makenzie had Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that causes abnormal electrical connections in the heart affecting heart rate.  She was quickly scheduled for a cardiac ablation surgery to repair the condition in time to recover and try out for the drill team (she made it!).  She had follow-up surgery six months later to further treat the condition and is now thriving.  Lari says, “We thank God for Zachary and his mom Karen every day.”

Lari reminds parents not to put off having the screening; she’s certainly glad she didn’t.  Think of it this way: you might get 20 minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee while you wait for your child to be screened—and then a good night’s sleep knowing you’ve done something to protect them.  Call today.

Editor’s Note: For screening information or for event sponsorship information, go to www.livingforzachary.org.

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