LAPORTE, Ind. (WNDU) – It was a day no one saw coming.
“September 25, 2013, I got a phone call from one of Jake’s coaches at football practice. Long story short, when we arrived there, he was in the ambulance being taken to the hospital.”
Doctors say then 17-year-old LaPorte High School student Jake West went into cardiac arrest and died of an undetected heart condition.
“Jake had no signs or symptoms of any condition. To know that my son was walking around with a heart that was just like a ticking time bomb, it just makes me sick,” Jake’s mother, Julie West, told 16 News Now Thursday.
Jake’s sudden death not only changed his family, it probed one of his classmates, now 24-year-old Bobby Young, to get a heart screening one month later.
“They offered screenings at the hospital and Bobby just felt that he needed to go and get a screening. When he went there, they uncovered the fact that he had a congenital heart condition,” Julie says.
On Thursday, Bobby sits in a recovery room two days after heart surgery, but alive thanks to a heart screening.
“He will get a new heart here real soon so what a great ending,” Julie says.
As for Jake, Julie says she believes a heart screening prior to her son’s death could have changed everything.
“What happened with Jake, I truly believe if he had a screening, he would be here. And I truly believe if we knew the condition that he had, my son would be walking through that door coming home to see us,” Julie says.
In the weeks following Jake’s sudden death, the West family started the The Play For Jake Foundation to raise awareness about the dangers of undetected heart conditions, before another family has to find out the hard way just like Julie did.
“There’s millions of people out there with undiagnosed heart conditions and we’re not doing enough. We need to screen our kids. It’s worth any amount of money to me in my world,” Julie says.
For more information about Jake’s story, undetected heart conditions, or health screenings, click here.