A Laporte man is having open heart surgery today and he is trying to spread awareness about the importance of heart screenings.
Bobby Young, 24, is in heart failure because of congenital heart disease. It is a disease he didn’t know he had, until the sudden death of his high school classmate 7 years ago.
Young will be getting a Left Ventricle Assist Device, or LVAD, in a surgery that will take four to six hours.
He believes he is alive today, because of his high school friend, Jake West.
In 2013, at age 17, West collapsed and died after football practice.
The healthy teen had an undetected heart condition that caused his sudden cardiac arrest.
His death called attention to the need for heart screenings beyond what children receive at their annual physical.
A month after West’s death, IU hospital in Laporte offered free heart scans to his classmates.
Young was one of the students who got an EKG.
“I remember texting my mom at the time and I said, hey I’m going to get this scan. What could it hurt? It started from there. Oct 15th of 2013,” says Young.
Young discovered he too had congenital heart disease. We interviewed Young shortly after his diagnosis. https://wsbt.com/news/local/jake-west-passing-prompts-teen-to-get-important-heart-screening
Young feels a strong connection to West’s mother Julie and they have stayed in touch.
After West’s death, his mother, Julie, started the Play for Jake Foundation. The non-profit organization is dedicated to getting kids screened for heart issues.
“He is the reason, and many others that is why we do the work that we do,” says Julie, “because if we can save a life and a family and a community from feeling what we feel every day, then all the hard work we put into it is worth that. It is just that, I am so happy he was able to get that screening.”
West says, there are around 3.7 million Americans that are walking around with an undiagnosed heart condition. She believes, with more screening, more people could be saved. Her foundation is pushing for heart screenings to be a part of a child’s yearly physical.
“Whether it will take their life or not no one knows, but if we can screen and be proactive, so many lives could be saved,” says West.
Young believes his EKG seven years ago, saved his life.
“My message is not only get your regular checkups with your doctor,” says Young, “but also, if you got something wrong, tell them about it.”
Play for Jake Foundation: https://playforjake.org/