A Baldwin County family is sharing their son’s story of survival in hopes of raising more awareness on heart disease. In May 2013, Sam Cockrell went into cardiac arrest after swimming at the Daphne YMCA.
“Sam was just your typical little boy very active in sports he played football for years when he was 11 and 12 he was 13 he discovered triathlon and discovered that he had a real love for that sport so he devoted all of his time to swimming biking and running and we thought he was just a typical kid,” said Amy Cockrell, Sam’s mother.
He survived but the family discovered he had Cardiomyopathy – a progressive heart condition that causes abnormal heart rhythms. To fix the problem doctors implanted a defibrillator in Sams’ chest.
“Everything was great until this last March a couple months ago we had a second cardiac arrest and due to the great medical team at Spring Hill and at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore he survived that cardiac arrest also and is thriving now “
Some kids can continue playing sports with heart conditions, as long as they take the proper precautions. That’s not the case with Sam. His condition gets worse.
“I just knew that we couldn’t be the only ones affected by this. We were contacted by organization called Parent Heart Watch. And after seeing what they’re doing across the U.S. in bringing heart screenings to different areas…I knew that we wanted to do that for this area…to keep other athletes safer,” Cockrell explained.
So they’ve chosen to highlight athletes by using Sam’s story and social media. Athletes for Hearts is a new website filled with all sorts of information on the heart, but there’s a focus on the most elite performers: athletes. The site is designed for parents, coaches, physicians and of course athletes themselves.
“The physicians have portals were they can go and learn about EKG readings…specifically for athletes. There are warning signs on there for athletes to be aware of because, a lot of the elite athletes push themselves to the point of exertion and a lot of times they don’t realize the symptoms they may be having could be a heart problem,” Cockrell said.
By the numbers, Sam is one in 1 million. He had approximately 5% chance of survival and he survived not one but two cardiac arrests. He’s moving forward with a new set of life goals now. He’s majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Alabama.
“It took 20 minutes to resuscitate him and the second one it took 65 minutes so we are truly blessed Sam is going on to lead a normal life.”
The Cockrell’s tell Fox10News their main hope for the website is to increase screenings for athletes and to make sure people know the warning signs of cardiac arrest.
There will be a free heart screening August 16, 2014 at the University of South Alabama –Springhill Campus. Parents can register their 13–18 year olds at: http://www.heartforathletes.org starting July 1. Only 100 slots are available.