A heart screening test at a local high school saved one young man's life, as it has for other student athletes across the country.

Last fall, Will Recla's heart was checked during a high school screening sponsored by the Nick of Time Foundation.

Recla didn't think they'd find any problems. He loved to run and didn't have a family history of heart problems.

But the screening found that he had a heart murmur, and follow-up testing revealed that Recla had a faulty heart valve and damaged aorta.

It's not unusual to discover these problems in young, apparently healthy, people, said Dr. Jonathan Drezner, a physician and professor at the University of Washington.

Most of those events occur in individuals who've had no symptoms and have normal exams, Dr. Drezner said.

Fortunately for Recla, there was a surgical fix, and two months after open heart surgery, he was able to lace up his running shoes again.

There is still controversy about making the screenings mandatory for all student athletes. The tests cost money, and lack of expertise can be a problem, said Dr. Jack Salerno, director of electrophysiology and pacing services at Seattle Children's Hospital.

These tests are out there and people are using them, but it's really who is reading or interpreting it where the value of that test comes into play, Dr. Salerno said.

For Will, there's no doubt about the value. The rest of his family has now been tested too.

The Nick of Time Foundation in partnership with the University of Washington provides youth heart screenings at local high schools. A minimum donation of $25 is suggested to help cover some of the cost. Read more at the Nick of Time Foundation's website.

Read or Share this story: