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Clay County Parents Encouraging Student-Athlete Health Screenings Following Baseball Player's Heart Abnormality.

Donovan Wimberly

Donovan Wimberly has played sports all his life.

From football to baseball and basketball, he received physicals along the way.

He didn't have any issues or symptoms that something might be wrong.

Now his mother and father are thankful they signed their fourteen-year-old up for a voluntary screening when it became available at Clay High School.

Saturday, when Jeff Brown's 14U Spartans take the field Donovan will be forced to sit and watch.

"I said mom why can’t I just play until the surgery, she said it doesn’t work like that Donovan," he said.

He didn't get injured playing.

“He’s been playing sports since he was four, he’s played football, baseball, basketball," his mother Erica Wimberly said.

Donovan’s mom, who is a registered nurse, thought it would be a good idea for Donovan to take the voluntary heart test when non-profit Safebeat offered it to him at school.

That test would lead a pediatric cardiologist to find out that his coronary artery was not aligned properly, something that could potentially compromise its functionality.

SafeBeat provides free state of the art preventative heart screenings and is the only organization that has a collaborative relationship with Wolfson's Children Hospital of Jacksonville.

“From what the cardiologist told me, a lot of times sudden cardiac arrest is the first symptom,” Erica Wimberly said.

You can not tell by looking at Donovan that he will have open heart surgery in a matter of weeks to fix his coronary artery issue.

According to SafeBeat, this heart abnormality is rare, and patients are often asymptomatic, but can often lead to sudden cardiac death.

Approximately 19 to 33 percent of sudden cardiac deaths in young people are attributable to coronary artery anomalies.

“When I found out about Donovan, it totally changed our mindset," Spartans 14U Head Coach Jeff Brown said.

Instead of raising money for uniforms and travel at this Saturday’s annual mid-season one-day tournament, all proceeds are going to help Donovan’s family pay medical bills.

The one-day tournament will be played at Greenland Park April 27 and is expected to start at 9 a.m.

“It’s [an] absolutely great sign that everybody is reaching out," Orlando Wimberly, Donovan's father said. "We want to raise awareness to other families that may be able to benefit from the screenings."

A message that these parents hope hits home.

“You know I can tell you that I have three boys and next time it comes around, they’re going to have that test, I promise you," Clay Head Baseball Coach Josh Persinger said.

Story Credit: https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/health/clay-county-parents-encouraging-student-athlete-health-screenings-following-baseball-players-heart-abnormality/77-75ce8938-af2d-48f4-843f-62626df25acf

Since you’re here, we have a small favor to ask. Requests from schools and districts for our screening services are growing, which means that the need for funds to cover the cost of those services is also growing. We want to make our services available to those who request it and beyond, so you can see why we need your help. SafeBeat heart screenings take a lot of time, money, and hard work to produce but we do it because we understand the value of a child's life, PRICELESS!

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