High school athlete nearly dies from heart conditi - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

High school athlete nearly dies from heart condition

(WMC-TV) - Andrew Foster was a high school athlete at the top of his game who nearly died on the field.

As a varsity football and baseball player at Briarcrest High School, this 16-year-old teenager stays busy staying in shape.

"Andrew has done nothing but sports for as long as I can remember. It's always some kind of sport,basketball, baseball, football. That's all he's ever done," said mother Cindy Foster.

But during off season workouts the beginning of last year, Andrew noticed his abilities weren't up to par.

"I just could not keep up with everybody else. I was pushing myself and working really hard, but I just couldn't. Just would go down much quicker, just be out of breath, feel out of shape all the time," said Andrew.

His mother said he kept getting sick.

"He was really getting sick to his stomach. Every time he was lifting weights, he was getting dizzy, lightheaded, sick to his stomach," said Cindy.

Andrew's father thought it was a conditioning issue more than anything else.

When his conditioning didn't improve, and his symptoms got worse. Andrew's pediatrician recommended he make an appointment with a cardiologist, to "rule out" any cardiac problems.

"We see a lot of children and teenagers especially, who get dizzy and lightheaded pretty easily. That in and of itself is very common. The difference for him is that this happened with exercise," said Dr. B. Rush Waller from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

"Did the Echo and was getting ready to do the stress test, getting him hooked up to do that, when the doctors came in and said, you can't do it, it's too risky. We found an abnormality and it's going to have to be corrected," said Cindy.

Andrew's condition is an anomalous right coronary. It's the second leading cause of sudden death among athletes.

The scary part is those episodes at practice could have actually been mini heart attacks that were all leading up to a big one.

"When she called me at work, I'll never forget that, because you're like, is this real? Are you sure this is right, cause by all appearances he seemed like a healthy kid," said Kelly.

On February 13 of last year, Andrew had open heart surgery to correct the birth defect that could have killed him.

"The particular condition that Andrew has is very dangerous. It is a cause of sudden death. When you hear of famous athletes playing basketball or football dying on the ball field, this is one of the things that causes that problem," said Waller.

"Every doctor who would come in would say, do you know how lucky you are? And he said yeah, and they were like, no really. Most of the time this condition is diagnosed in an autopsy," said Cindy.

Andrew is now back. He was given full clearance by his doctor to get back on the playing field.

"It was a relief when he said that, I just have to get though this and that's it. I don't have to worry about anything more, the problem is solved," said Andrew.

Dr. Waller said if Andrew had not been referred and diagnosed at the time he was, there's a good chance he would've died playing sports.

"I do feel Andrew feels blessed to be in that position. He felt like God chose to reveal this to him so that, he's been given a chance to make a difference. And so that's... Andrew," said Cindy.

The Fosters said the lesson for all parents is to listen to your children, and know the warning signs of something wrong and see a doctor immediately.

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