Family hopes foundation in memory of son will prevent other deaths

Program teaches people about HCM and offers heart screenings for teens

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

If you go

Who: Young Champions Heart Screening Clinic.

What: Heart screenings for Clark County middle or high school athletes, band members and cheerleaders ages 13 to 18.

■ When: By appointment on Feb. 25. Call 360-514-1707 to schedule an appointment.

Where: PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center Heart and Vascular Center, 400 N.E. Mother Joseph Place, Vancouver.

Cost: Suggested donation of $25 to help offset costs, but no child will be turned away due to a family’s inability to donate.

Information:Quinn Driscoll­ Foundation or Young Champions Student Athlete Heart Screenings.

Related story

La Center teen 'very critical' after collapse

Scott Driscoll knows all too well what 14-year-old Cody Sherrell’s family is going through.

Sherrell collapsed and went into cardiac arrest Tuesday afternoon while playing basketball at La Center Middle School.

Scott and Kelly Driscoll’s son, 13-year-old Quinn Driscoll, died in June 2009 after going into cardiac arrest while running around the school track during gym class.

Before word of Sherrell’s medical emergency made its way across the county, Scott Driscoll had heard the news that another young athlete was fighting for his life.

Sherrell was listed in critical condition Wednesday afternoon at Randall Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in Portland. The cause of Sherrell’s cardiac arrest and his prognosis is unknown.

“From a family perspective, you do relive the event,” Driscoll said Wednesday.

“Obviously, our hearts and condolences go out to that family because we know what they’re going through,” he added. “The first concern is the well-being of Cody and his family. It’s probably one of the worst things that can happen to a parent: the death or tragedy of a child.”

Quinn Driscoll was a three-sport athlete at Wy’east Middle School with no known heart problems or symptoms when he died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is a genetic heart condition in which the heart muscle becomes thick and restricts blood flow, especially during exercise. According to the American Heart Association, the condition afflicts about one in 500 people — or about 500,000 people in the United States — and is a leading cause of death in athletes younger than 18.

Many times, the first symptom of HCM among young patients is “sudden collapse and possible death,” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Other symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness and fainting, especially after exercise. A family history of cardiac issues is also a red flag.

The Driscolls didn’t know anything about HCM until their son died from the condition. After his death, however, they researched the condition and started a foundation — The Quinn Driscoll Foundation — to educate other families on the symptoms and causes of HCM.

But they didn’t stop there. The Driscolls are also taking action to detect heart conditions in young athletes before emergencies.

Young Champions

The Quinn Driscoll Foundation has partnered with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center to create the Young Champions program. The program offers free or reduced-cost heart screenings for student athletes, cheerleaders and musicians in Clark County.

The program has conducted three heart-screening clinics — which include an exam, heart ultrasound, electrocardiogram and echocardiogram — and has a fourth scheduled for Feb. 25. The screenings are free, although the program asks for a $25 donation to help fund future efforts.

During the first three clinics, the program screened more than 600 kids. Of those 600, about 3 percent were referred to a cardiologist for follow-up care, Driscoll said.

Through the partnership, the heart and vascular center also offers heart screenings anytime for $50. The foundation helps cover that cost for families who cannot afford the visit, Driscoll said.

In addition, in 2011, the foundation also donated more than $10,000 in grants to area schools to purchase automated external defibrillators, or AEDs.

Driscoll hopes the work being done in Quinn’s name will prevent another child from dying of sudden cardiac arrest and spare another family from feeling the grief of losing a child.

“We’ve always said if we’ve saved one, we exceeded our goal,” he said. “It’s not a pride thing. We do it because we don’t want to see another family go through what we’ve gone through.”

Marissa Harshman: http://twitter.com/col_health;http://facebook.com/reporterharshman;marissa.harshman@columbian.com; 360-735-4546.