AUSTIN, TX ~ Today, State Representative Sylvester Turner (Houston), State Representative Wayne Smith (Baytown), State Representative Dan Huberty (Houston), and Scott Stephens, President of the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation, urged the Texas Legislature to support legislation that will allow for electrocardiogram screenings (ECGs) as part of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) pre-participation requirements for student athletes. The legislators have introduced HB 677, HB 767, and HB 779, respectively. Representatives of medical and educational entities joined today in support of the legislation, including Pat Shuff, CEO of Cypress ECG; Dr. Keith Moore, Superintendent of Crosby ISD; Holly Farmer and Pamela Velasco of August Heart, as well as numerous other medical professionals and supporters.
Sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of death among school-age athletes. Further, student athletes are 4.5 times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death than students not participating in competitive sports. Though student athletes in Texas are currently required to receive a physical in order to participate in UIL activities, the traditional physical does not sufficiently detect the underlying cardiac abnormalities that can lead to sudden cardiac death. An ECG provides for greater detection of cardiovascular diseases that predispose athletes to sudden cardiac death.
"This bill would save the lives of student athletes who are currently in danger of sudden cardiac death because they have an undiagnosed condition", said Rep. Sylvester Turner. "These deaths are preventable and we have the resources to inform Texas parents if their child is at risk. The legislation does not require parents to take any medical action in response to an ECG. Regardless of the information the ECG provides, any medical decisions regarding the student athlete remain at the parent's discretion."
The legislation filed is an extension of the momentous efforts by Scott P. Stephens of the Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation to screen all athletes in Texas schools. Three years ago, Stephens lost his son Cody to sudden cardiac death and believes that he would be alive today if he had received an ECG. Cody was only a few weeks away from graduating from Crosby High School and had received a football scholarship to Tarleton State University.
"After I lost my son Cody to sudden cardiac arrest in May of 2012, I discovered that the #1 killer of student athletes is sudden cardiac arrest. Texas has a great opportunity to lead the nation by being the first state to enhance the current pre-participation examination by including an ECG twice in a student athletes career. By including an ECG we can find many of these at risk athletes before their families have to endure an unimaginable yet preventable loss," said Mr. Stephens.
Currently, student athletes are required to have physicals and parents are responsible for this cost. The cost of ECGs can range from $0-15 and many schools districts provide ECGs for free.
"It was an easy decision to author a bill that would require heart screenings for student athletes who already take physicals before they play. If we can save even one kid's life, it will be worth it, " said Rep. Wayne Smith.
The Cody Stephens Go Big or Go Home Memorial Foundation has been a part of screening over 30,000 student athletes in its 2 year history. Mr. Stephens is continuing to receive extensive support from legislators and various organizations who understand the value and critical need to ensure every student athlete receives an ECG.
"In an attempt to ensure the health and safety of our Texas students, I, and several other members, will be partnering with the Cody Stephens Foundation to monitor the heart health of UIL athletes - our children", said Rep. Dan Huberty. "It is essential that we protect every student's life to the best of our ability and the Cody Stephen's bill will go a long way to ensure that we do just that."
You can view the press conference online at this link: http://tlchouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=9717
Alison Brock or Emma Oliver
Office of Rep. Sylvester Turner, 512-463-0554