HFJ Urges Sudden Cardiac Arrest Screening for Student Athletes

Photo: Mark Bell Executive Director of the Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ), Deborah Chen.

Story Highlights

  • The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is urging parents and school officials to take responsibility for the screening of student athletes in order to detect risks for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).
  • “It is important to get the children screened and not wait for somebody else to pay for it,” said the HFJ’s Executive Director, Deborah Chen.
  • Mrs. Chen also implored past students, who bask in the glory the performance of the athletes brings to the schools, to include resources for SCA screening in their contributions to the institutions.

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is urging parents and school officials to take responsibility for the screening of student athletes in order to detect risks for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

“It is important to get the children screened and not wait for somebody else to pay for it,” said the HFJ’s Executive Director, Deborah Chen.

She pointed out that the cost is nominal and a price cannot be placed on human life.

“I know that the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) is doing their part and actively looking for funding to have the athletes screened, but I do not think we should wait on that to happen. When you consider the number of students covered by ISSA, it would most likely run to a very heavy sum, if they were to foot the bill,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Chen also implored past students, who bask in the glory the performance of the athletes brings to the schools, to include resources for SCA screening in their contributions to the institutions.

The first level of screening for students at HFJ is $2,500. There are additional costs, if the student is referred to a cardiologist or has to take further tests, such as an echocardiogram.

The Executive Director said it is important to do the screening in order to know the status of the student, in order to determine the next course of action.

“I don’t think we could ever undervalue our lives or the lives of our loved ones and say that we can’t afford the testing. It may be the difference between life and death for a student athlete,” she stressed.

Mrs. Chen said that parents and guardians are welcome to visit the HFJ’s Beechwood Avenue offices, adding that screenings are also carried out islandwide by HFJ personnel.

“We have gone to schools by appointment, and coaches have rounded up their groups of students and have turned up to have them screened. Parents are informed and they are on hand with the students, and we have spent an entire day in many parishes,” she said.

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