Entries in Fennville High School (2)


Enlarged Heart Killed High School Basketball Star

Thomas Northcut/Lifesize(FENNVILLE, Mich.) -- The sound of the swoosh ended a thrilling season of basketball at Michigan's Fennville High School, but the victory turned tragic when 16-year-old star athlete Wes Leonard collapsed on the gym floor after shooting the winning basket.

According to Dr. David A Start, the forensic pathologist and medical examiner of Ottawa County, the cause of death was cardiac arrest due to dilated cardiomyopathy -- an enlarged heart -- a condition that often goes unnoticed.

Leonard's game-winning layup, which earned two of his 21 points that game, led the undefeated Fennville Blackhawks to a 57-55 win over Bridgman High School. Teammates hoisted in him the air moments before he collapsed.

"Nobody knew for sure why he had collapsed and was suddenly on the floor," said Tim Breed, a spokesperson for Holland Hospital who was also at the game.

Suspecting possible heat exhaustion, people tried to and cool Leonard down with ice packs while waiting for the ambulance. Paramedics performed CPR and took Leonard to a defibrillator on the court. He was rushed by ambulance to nearby Holland Hospital, where he died two hours later at 10:40 p.m.

What led to Leonard's condition, which prevents the heart from efficiently pumping blood to the rest of the body, is unknown. According to the National Institutes of health, risk factors include heart disease or a family history of it, high blood pressure, vitamin or mineral deficiency, infections involving the heart muscle, and the use of certain drugs or medications.

Thirty percent of dilated cardiomyopathy cases are inherited, according to Dr. Steven Fowler, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What Killed a High School Basketball Star Following Big Win?

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(FENNVILLE, Mich.) -- Celebration turned to tragedy Thursday night at a Michigan high school when 16-year-old Wes Leonard collapsed on the basketball court after scoring the game-winning shot in overtime, helping his team clinch a perfect season.

Paramedics took Leonard to a defibrillator on the Fennville High School court. Soon after he was rushed by ambulance to nearby Holland Hospital, where he died two hours later at 10:40 p.m., the Holland Sentinel reported.

The cause of death remains unclear. Hospital spokesman Tim Breed said an autopsy will likely be conducted.

Sudden death in young athletes is relatively rare, but a major concern among schools and professional organizations. It gained significant attention in 1990 with the death of 23-year-old Hank Gathers, a basketball star at Loyola Marymount University. Gathers died after collapsing on the court during a game against the University of California, Santa Barbara. A medical examiner determined that Gathers suffered from hypertophic cardiomyopathy -- an enlarged heart.

Efforts to develop more sensitive screening tests that could detect risk factors for sudden death, such as cardiomyopathy, are under way. In a study published in the March issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, recording the heart's electrical activity during exercise by electrocardiography had no effect on predicting young athletes' risk for cardiac arrest.

"A variety of cardiac disorders can result in sudden death during sport activity," wrote Dr. Alfred Bove, professor emeritus at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia in an accompanying editorial in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. "These include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, long QT syndrome, and Brugada syndrome."

In an interview last week, Fennville coach Ryan Klinger told the Sentinel Leonard was recovering from the flu. Klingler told the Sentinel that Leonard took care of his body "better than probably anybody I've ever coached," adding that the teen spent "a lot of time on his own in the weight room."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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