HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Houston ISD is hosting its first ever free EKG screening event on Saturday, August 3, for student athletes.
It’s aimed at identifying heart problems and preventing sudden cardiac arrest.
The EKG screenings have gained popularity after recent tragedies—student athletes in the prime of their lives dying suddenly without warning signs.
“Three weeks shy of high school graduation, he walked in one Sunday afternoon and said, ‘Dad, I’m tired. I'm going to take a nap,’” recalls Scott Stephens, father of Cody who died of sudden cardiac arrest. “Took a nap and didn’t wake up.”
Cody Stephens died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2012—a star right tackle for Crosby High School who was otherwise healthy, on his way to play college football.
“I didn’t know to have his heart tested,” said Stephens. “How crazy is that? I spent $1,300 on knee braces and didn’t spend $20 on ECG, so I don’t want those parents to live that nightmare.”
Stephens made it his mission after that to educate others about EKGs or ECGs, creating the Cody Stephens Foundation https://www.codystephensfoundation.org/). The EKG machine quickly detects any heart defects in young people.
“One’s the European spelling,” said Stephens. “One’s the American, but it’s the electrocardiogram. If you see the little squiggly line that they run, it’s real simple. It takes about five minutes. You put ten tabs on a person, and you turn the machine on for just a minute or so.”
Houston ISD is prepping locker rooms for its first ever EKG event, free to HISD students.
“We’re super excited about tomorrow’s event,” said HISD athletic director Andre Walker. “The event is here at Delmar Fieldhouse from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Students will be able to come take an EKG. That is 8th grade all the way through 12th.”
The tests are for all student athletes along with cheerleaders, band, drill team, and dance team members.
“Very important—the parents need to show up because there is a waiver that they have to sign,” said Walker.
If you’re not an HISD student, there are also free EKG screenings in Pearland 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday in honor of another young athlete who died of sudden cardiac arrest.
“There’s a young man that died in Pearland,” said Stephens. “He was a basketball player named Cameron Juniel. His mother and family are holding one tomorrow at the Pearland Rec Center.”
The screenings are happening after House Bill 76 was signed into Texas law this year, aimed at getting more student athletes to do EKGs. That law goes into effect September 1st.
“When parents get the physical, one of the questions right above the signature lines is: would you like an ECG?” said Stephens. “I have a cardiologist that I work with that says, ‘You find them. I’ll fix them.’ But you can’t fix them if you don’t find them.”
There’s also a student athlete heart screening event next week in Sheldon ISD.