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Local Non-Profit Seeing Uptick in Cardiovascular Screenings

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Teresa Mago/Facebook
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Teresa Mago started the Zac Mago foundation to honor her son who died tragically because of an enlarged heart.

Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest after colliding with a Bengals player during Monday night's NFL game. Cardiologists have expressed online their belief that Hamlin suffered what is known as commotio cordis - a potentially fatal low-mild chest wall impact.

Following Hamlin’s collapse on the field, two local North Liberty nonprofits are seeing an increase in people signing up for heart screenings. Teresa Mago of The Zac Mago Foundation has partnered with Julie West, who started Play for Jake - creating Team 265.

In 2013, Julie West lost her son Jake to an undetected heart issue. Five years later, Teresa’s son, Zac died from an enlarged heart. Teresa said the foundation started as a way to prevent tragedies like what happened to her son.

Team 265 goes to schools to provide comprehensive tests, like an ECG and a limited echo to rule out conditions that could cause the child to go into sudden cardiac arrest. They also provide height and weight measurements and blood pressure readings.

“If we would have had a chance to screen Zac more often, you know, we bought off we just didn’t know,” Mago said.

The only way to detect a heart condition is through heart screening. According to the National Library of Medicine, twenty thousand children suffer from cardiac arrest annually due to undetected heart abnormalities. Initiatives like Team 265 help prevent future casualties by catching conditions early on.

“Sometimes we find conditions where it's not a big deal, right now. But they need to be followed by a cardiologist.” Mago said. “And as they get older, it could be a big deal. It's also found conditions that are, you know, potentially lethal.”

Team 265 has monthly screenings at the Walkerton Youth Building. The next event is Saturday, February 4th.

Rachel Schnelle is a Reporter/Assignment editor for WVPE. She can be reached at reschnelle@wvpe.org.
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