Damar Hamlin collapsed. Indiana mom whose son died of cardiac arrest on football field grieved

She had no idea what happened on the field, but her friend flooded her phone with text messages as the safety of Damar Hamlin collapsed. She wasn’t watching the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills in the West.

Julie, are you alright tonight? Just checking up on you. If you need to chat, I’m here.

Monday night in the West swiftly transformed from ordinary to overwhelming waves of sorrow.

The memories came rushing back to Jake, the 17-year-old son of West, when he collapsed on the football field at LaPorte High School and died of sudden cardiac arrest in the afternoon of September 2013.

He would have now been 26. Jake, who had an undetected heart condition, died and it didn’t happen as a miracle. They knew he was already gone, even after working at the hospital, they said, “hoping for a miracle.” Medics worked to revive Jake on the field at West Field.

Jake West died in 2013 after collapsing on the field during football practice at LaPorte High.

Some individuals were engaged in prayer, while others stood solemnly around Hamlin, players from both teams, shedding tears. Medical professionals were diligently attempting to resuscitate 24-year-old Hamlin. A Bengals’ stadium ambulance emerged onto the field on Monday.

It would hit too close to her home. Some of her friends from Jake’s group didn’t want to see the field on the scene, but some of West’s friends did.

West expressed gratitude to them, saying, “I appreciate you informing me.” As it occurred to him, I pondered about all of Jake’s acquaintances who observed the identical incident. This is not only undesirable for my own visual perception, but it is also the least desirable occurrence for me.

The NFL verified to USA Today on Tuesday that an automated external defibrillator, or AED, was additionally employed on the field prior to his heart rhythm being revived. Hamlin received CPR, oxygen, and was placed on a gurney before being transported to a hospital by an ambulance.

Hamlin announced early Tuesday morning that The Bills suffered a cardiac arrest. He was transferred to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further testing and treatment before his heartbeat was restored in the field.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hamlin remained in a critical state.

An Automated External Defibrillator could have potentially preserved Jake’s life.

Jake had planned to go to Buffalo Wild Wings with the D-line for dinner after practice in September 2013, but he had to stop by West High School in the afternoon to give him money.

Jake expressed, “‘Thank you, momma. I adore you,'” as he leaned through her car window. “‘I also love you,'” I responded.

West will forever be grateful that Jake needed money that afternoon, grateful because she got to see him alive one last time.

Jake West (26) played football for LaPorte. "You don

During a play on the field at practice, there was no collision, and Jake fell down on the ground.

She didn’t receive a response, but she made an attempt to return the call. After receiving a missed call from the LaPorte coach, who had left a message saying “Jake is down on the field,” she realized that she had left her cell phone inside the house while she was outside. West was at home at that time.

“And he was already in the ambulance,” she exclaimed, “arrived swiftly like a frantic lady and raced, naturally, in my vehicle and leaped, just like that.”

West tried to get Jake to the emergency room at the police station. Jake needed to be rushed to the hospital. Medical personnel wouldn’t let her, but West attempted to help.

West expressed, “However, they were unsuccessful in rescuing him.” Furthermore, they dedicated an extensive amount of time to their efforts,” That was our sole focus. All you could do was plead, plead. It was an extremely distressing experience.

Following Jake’s death, West requested a post-mortem examination.

She expressed, “However, I believed, ‘Hmm, I must acquire knowledge. There must be something, something that we evidently overlooked.'” She is only seventeen.” It is disheartening to contemplate such thoughts, simply quite disheartening.

When the autopsy came back, it revealed that Jake had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a disease in which normal heart muscle tissue is replaced by fibrous and fatty tissue, causing potentially life-threatening and irregular heart rhythms by interrupting normal electrical signals in the heart.

West stated that he never displayed any indications or symptoms, despite undergoing various physical examinations. I could never imagine that there was anything wrong with his heart for millions of years.

Julie West with son Jake, who died in 2013 at the age of 17.

West said, “It is possible that Jake’s life could have been saved by an AED. He was in the coach’s office when Jake collapsed, but there wasn’t an AED on the field.”

In order to advocate for compulsory instruction on unexpected heart failure, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in educational institutions and on sports fields, and to pass legislation, West and a group of other mothers who have tragically lost their athletic sons to sudden cardiac arrest have been dedicated to this cause since the untimely passing of Jake.

Sudden cardiac arrest is typically caused by a problem with the electrical system of the heart, which disrupts the ability of the heart to pump blood and results in the cessation of blood flow. The simplest explanation for this abrupt loss of heart function is a disturbance in consciousness and breathing.

According to Dr. Richard Kovacs, a cardiologist affiliated with IU Health, sudden cardiac arrest can occur due to a blow to the chest, heart illness, or an undiagnosed heart condition.

He stated, “Abrupt cardiac arrest is the lethal cessation of heart activity. Furthermore, this necessitates prompt medical intervention or the sportsman perishes.”

‘Many things we are unaware of’

It’s uncertain what Hamlin’s cardiac background is. And Dr. Kovacs emphasizes that he has not reviewed any of Hamlin’s medical documents.

“Expressed Kovacs, who supervises cardiology assessments for the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, ‘However, many of us who have witnessed the footage believe it might have been connected to the impact to the torso.’ ‘Nevertheless, there is a plethora of information that remains unknown to us.'”

Kovacs stated that a well-timed blow to the chest during the exact moment of the right period in the cardiac cycle can cause commotio cordis, which is a complete abnormality in the heart leading to cardiac arrest.

It is often seen in sports when participating in martial arts, even a kick to the chest can cause cardiac arrhythmia, or when a puck or ball hits the chest, especially in hockey or baseball games in the Little League.

Kovacs stated, “However, a well-timed and accurately placed strike is sufficient.” The likelihood of inducing cardiac arrest through impact from another person’s body is reduced.

FILE - Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin looks on during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Nov. 20, 2022, in Detroit.

The amount of time it will take for Hamlin to recover, if he does, is a significant uncertainty, Kovacs stated.

According to Kovacs, the duration of the treatment can vary between 24 and 48 hours, depending on the hospital and the medical staff. Kovacs mentioned that Hamlin is undergoing therapeutic hypothermia, which suggests that he is likely sedated, as reported by The Bills. This cooling technique is employed to safeguard brain function and prevent harm resulting from cardiac arrest.

He stated, “You endure and that’s exceedingly difficult on the family.” “They express, ‘We intend to maintain his stability temporarily, then discontinue the use of sedation, and subsequently assess his brain function.'” “It does not imply that it’s negative information. It simply indicates that they are adhering to the established procedure.”

Kovacs conveyed his optimism that the occurrences that transpired on Monday evening during the pinnacle event of football will enhance consciousness regarding cardiac issues and the significance of screenings.

Kovacs stated that he possessed a defibrillator and acknowledged that it could potentially be a case of cardiac arrest. He promptly took action and exhibited this last night. It was crucial to have a plan in place for emergency situations. The main point to take away from this is that despite thorough screening and the athlete being highly skilled, healthy, and well taken care of, they can still experience cardiac arrest. This is a significant message to consider.

Kovacs stated, “Individuals need not feel fearful about utilizing these.” It determines whether to administer an electric shock or not. It is a device that, when placed on the individual’s chest, performs all the necessary actions independently. Kovacs and West aspire to witness the widespread presence of AEDs in various locations such as airports, casinos, sports fields, schools, workplaces, and places of worship.

“According to him, the message for the average spectator in the stands is that you have the ability to rescue a life.”

West, who has been a strong proponent for cardiac screenings, is also actively involved in working with legislators to pass a bill that ensures the presence of AEDs in schools, athletic fields, and provides education on the use of these devices and sudden cardiac arrest.

She hopes that people can learn from the tragedy that happened on Monday, so there was an AED on the field because she hopes the outcome will be positive.

West said, “If we are not prepared, and if things are not going well, then there will be a life that is laying there, happening, if these things are not going to happen, it is when it is not happening.”

Expand your knowledge, preserve lives

Discover further information about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).

Take part. Inquire at your school, sports department, or workplace if there are operational, easily reachable AEDs.

During events held at the stadium, medical teams are equipped with Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). The website of Lucas Oil Stadium provides maps indicating the specific locations of these AEDs. A total of 17 AEDs can be found at various levels of the stadium, including Street, Loge, and Terrace levels.

The occurrence of abrupt cardiac arrest or unexpected cardiac demise indicates the need for pediatricians and other primary care providers to assess the patient’s clinical history, family history, and physical examination for potential risks.

If there is a concern, the electrocardiogram should be the first test to be interpreted by a trained physician, considering the patient’s clinical history and referring to a specialist to recognize the electrical heart disease.

Are there any individuals in your family who have had a history of cardiac conditions or died before the age of 50? Do you occasionally experience a rapid heartbeat, even when at rest? Have you ever experienced shortness of breath, chest pain, or an unexplained seizure as a child or as an adult?

Julie West kisses son Jake, who died in 2013 on the football field after suffering sudden cardiac arrest.

Contact the Project Adam affiliate in Indiana via email at projectadam@iuhealth.Org. Discover the process of becoming a Heart Safe School through Project Adam, which commenced in 1999 following the passing of Adam Lemel, a 17-year-old student from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, who tragically collapsed and died while participating in a basketball game. Visit https://www.Projectadam.Com/ for more information.