TOLEDO (WTOL) - Kids complain about homework or chores, but there’s one thing they shouldn’t grumble about - their sports physical.
It’s something that saved a local man’s life.
He was a healthy baby boy, who over the years found the sport he loves.
Jack Ferree played hockey on Sylvania Rec teams and was good enough to play for Northview High.
“I didn’t really have much to care about at that age,” Jack said.
He said he felt invincible at that age. Because he was playing hockey for Northview, Jack had to go in for a sports physical, which is required for local athletes.
It was no big deal for the 16 year-old.
“Yeah, it was a check in the box. We're going to get a health checkup so he can play hockey and just a normal day,” said his mom Jenean.
But that changed once the doctor at that physical simply took a listen to Jack's heart. Unexpectedly, something wasn't right.
“I thought I was just getting my muscles checked out or something. I don’t even really know what they look for in the routine,” Jack said.
They told him to go to ProMedica’s Pediatric Cardiology offices at Toledo Hospital.
It was a painful day the family will never forget.
“I had another doctor’s appointment signed up, right after that and I was crying at the eye doctor and I called my husband and I said, ‘something is wrong with his heart and I don’t know what it is,’” said Jenean.
The diagnosis was heart block. The electrical signal in his heart was being blocked from getting from the upper chambers of his heart to the lower chambers. Blood was not pumping properly to his organs.
“But third degree heart block can be very dangerous. It can be a cause for you to pass out and for people that don’t have an appropriate escape rate, it can potentially be very dangerous,” said Jack’s doctor, Dr. Jeffrey Moore.
The solution for Jack was a pacemaker. It makes sure the electrical charge gets all the way through his heart.
“I’ve had this condition since I was born and I didn’t know until 16 years later,” Jack said. “
"With the pacemaker installed, now I feel like he has a better quality of life,” Jenean said.
But after that first sports physical, doctors also discovered Jack has several leaky valves in his heart. That was also serious, but something Dr. Moore says Jack can live with.
They’ll make sure they keep an eye on it. It all proves why sports physicals or well check-ups aren’t something parents or the athletes themselves should take lightly.
“We picked up a problem with Jack before it became a problem,” Dr. Moore said.
“I mean, you only have one life, one body to take care of, so you definitely need to have that checked out,” said Jenean.
Dr. Moore said that if Jack didn’t have his sports physical, it’s possible this heart problems may have gone undetected even further and for a longer time.
While Jack is doing well now, he can’t do electrical work of any kind and he had to give up the rest of his hockey career at Northview.
He also can’t compete in any full-contact sports activities for the rest of his life. It wasn’t easy to give up, but he has a great outlook on it, and life in general.
“Being healthy is probably my top priority, over something that I enjoy. It’s better to know than to live your whole life and not know.”
Jack’s life-saving sports physical is just one of the many focuses of American Heart Month, which is just wrapping up today.
Learn more about heart health by visiting the American Heart Association’s website.