New Pa. law protects kids from sudden cardiac arrest
NORRISTOWN, PA.; May 30, 2012 (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania today became the first state in the country with a law designed to catch hidden heart problems in student athletes. Supporters say it could save dozens of lives every year.
It's the 'Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention' bill. It grew out of a Montgomery County family's tragic loss.
Their local efforts have turned into a movement now helping kids statewide.
The signing by Governor Tom Corbett marked a big milestone in a long campaign by state representative Mike Vereb ((verb))... And Darren and Phyllis Sudman of Plymouth Meeting.
After their infant son Simon died in 2005 of a condition called Long QT syndrome, the Sudmans created Simon's Fund, to raise awareness about silent heart defects.
Experts say they kill 2,000 children a year nationwide.
In an emotional speech, Darren Sudman spoke on behalf of others in the crowd who'd also lost children to sudden cardiac arrest.
He said they were a club no parent wants to join.
Sudman told the audience, "We want to make sure we are the last members of the club. We don't want you to join. We want your kids to be safer, and this legislation does that."
Under the new law, parents of student athletes will take home a list of warning signs of life-threatening heart defects, such as:
* Shortness of breath
* Chest pains
* Racing heart rate
Coaches will also be trained in recognizing the signs, and any athlete who shows them will be out of action until they are medically cleared.
"It's better to be sidelined for the course of the game, than it is to be lost forever," said Governor Corbett.
Since Simon's Fund was created, it has screened 4,000 students, and found defects in 38 of them, including Kenny Fair's daughter Melissa.
Her problem was fixed with surgery.
"We feel so fortunate that we're on this side of it now, that we found out before it's too late," said her father.
Melissa added, "I'm better than new."
The new law goes into effect in 60 days. That is in time for the fall sports season.
Governor Corbett and the families say they hope other states will follow Pennsylvania's lead.
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