News 11.5.2017 02:31 pm

Pretoria school boy suffers heart attack after rugby practice

His mother said he was coughing after practice and passed out at home later that evening.

An 18-year-old boy in the north of Pretoria had a heart attack after sport practice this week.

Marissa Hepburn said her son, Marko, was rushed to hospital on Sunday night after he collapsed at home, Rekord North reported.

“He was practising sevens rugby at school earlier that afternoon,” Hepburn said.

“With the team flying to Dallas soon, Marko felt the need to practise even though he was feeling ill.”

Hepburn said her son was coughing after practice and passed out at home later that evening.

He was rushed to Montana private hospital.

“Blood tests indicated a severe infection of his pericardium [sack around his heart] and the heart enzyme count was very high,” said Hepburn.

The following morning it was confirmed that Marko had suffered a mild heart attack.

“I felt terrible. I’m a medic myself and should have seen the danger beforehand,” said an emotional Hepburn.

She said Marko had shown flu symptoms the week before.

“He said he felt better and decided to practise. I should never have allowed it,” she said.

“I want to let all parents and schools understand how dangerous it is to allow children to play or practice sports if they are sick – or just recovered from an illness.”

She said parents and coaches at school often put pressure on kids to perform in sport activities.

“After what happened to Marko, a father of another learner called me saying his son was going to play at a championship but recently became ill. He was considering letting his son compete,” said Hepburn.

“From my personal experience now, I say to all parents: rather keep your children home when they’re ill, than let them practice or play sports and never see them play again. Your children might lose a championship or opportunity – but there will always be another.”

Marissa said she almost lost her child on Sunday.

“The cardiologist told me if I had not brought him in that night, he might not have woken up at all the next morning,” she said with a quiver in her voice.

Marko is home and under strict bedrest.

“He is in a wheelchair as he is not allowed to walk or over-exert his heart. His pulse must stay under 70 to avoid any further damage.”

Hepburn said: “His road to recovery is a long one. I nearly lost him, and I feel all parents have to be warned of this. Your child’s safety must be put above all else.”

Caxton News Service

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