EKG Detects Student-Athlete’s Rare Heart Ailment, Health First Supports ‘Who We Play For’ to Provide Free EKGs

By  //  November 8, 2020

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Health First provided $180 million to community support, organizations, charity and uncompensated care

When Carmin Reyes’ 14-year-old son, Giovanni Garcia, decided to join the swim team at Space Coast Junior/Senior High, an EKG was in order to clear him to participate in the sport – something mandated for student-athletes in Brevard Public Schools. (Health First image)

Giovanni underwent a catheter ablation to permanently correct his heart-rhythm problem

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – When Carmin Reyes’ 14-year-old son, Giovanni Garcia, decided to join the swim team at Space Coast Junior/Senior High, an EKG was in order to clear him to participate in the sport – something mandated for student-athletes in Brevard Public Schools. 

When the Port St. John mom saw an ad for free EKGs at Health First Medical Group’s Gateway location, she signed Giovanni up.

As part of its commitment to give back to the community, Health First has partnered with the nonprofit Who We Play For since 2016 to provide these screenings.

In total for Fiscal Year 2019, Health First provided $180 million of community support to other organizations and our direct charity and uncompensated care. Supporting wellness and health-driven organizations is part of our commitment to giving back to our community.

This includes activities and events such as free EKGs with Who We Play For. And these events can be lifesaving, as Carmin discovered.

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Carmin thought Giovanni having a heart screening would be a box to check and the EKG would be over and done with.

“Afterward, everything just changed,” Carmin said. “It wasn’t perfect.”

Health First contacted Carmin and let her know Giovanni’s heart rhythm didn’t look normal.

“They told me about going to a specialist,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Giovanni was referred to pediatric cardiology specialists in Orlando, including an electrophysiologist.

“I thought, ‘We’ll go there, he’ll have the test, and he’s going to be OK,’ ” Carmin said.

But further testing led to the reason behind the abnormal reading – Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.

“I was numb,” said Carmin, who was shocked at the diagnosis. “I cried. I freaked out.”

THE STORY OF “Who We Play For” began November 30, 2007, on the goal line of the Cocoa Beach High School soccer field, where Rafe Maccarone went into sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) following a warm-up routine before the beginning of practice. (WWPF image)

The rare condition, which is present at birth, involves an extra electrical pathway between the heart’s upper and lower chambers, causing a rapid heartbeat. Serious heart problems can occur without treatment – and the condition, which can be fatal, is usually found on a fluke during a cardiac exam.

Giovanni underwent a catheter ablation to permanently correct his heart-rhythm problem in April. Carmin said he was up walking shortly after the procedure and back to normal before long. A two-month follow-up EKG was a welcome relief.

“Everything was perfect,” Carmin said.

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Carmin is grateful to all who helped detect her son’s heart abnormality and restore him to good health – from the initial EKG to the pediatric specialists to the electrophysiologist who corrected the defect.

“Every parent wants to know that their kid is completely healthy,” Carmin said. “I’m so grateful for everyone who has helped me with all this – and now my son’s healthy.”

Outcomes like Giovanni’s are the backbone of Health First’s mission. Because when it comes to caring for our community, we want to ensure our families, friends and neighbors have access to the wellness and health services they need.

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