PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the wake of a freak accident in which a high school basketball player collapsed and died after hitting the game winning shot, Eyewitness News spoke to a local doctor working with others to prevent similar tragedies.
“There shouldn’t be any kid dropping dead playing basketball, playing football, running track,” said Dr. Jerry Steingard.
Steingard took a vow, eight years ago, to launch a crusade from the tiny South Philadelphia street corner medical office where he worked. He would provide free physicals for any athlete, physicals that went far beyond the standard checkups that often missed hidden life threatening problems.
“(They’re) getting a $7,000 physical. They’re getting an echocardiogram, an EKG,” said Steingard.
His first year at South Philadelphia high school the doctor said he checked about a hundred athletes but Steingard kept recruiting everyone from Tony Luke’s to bring sandwiches, to some of the top cardiologists in the world.
“One of the cardiologists got excited. He said ‘this is kind of neat,’ then he got more cardiologists on.”
last June 1,000 student athletes piled into Temple’s Liacouras Center where 50 doctors and 200 volunteers checked them out discovering what may have been some hidden life threatening problems.
“Last year we picked up 11 abnormalities out of a thousand kids and three were cardiac.”
This year the doctor is hoping to recruit even more medical specialists and volunteers. He says he has no idea how many athletes’ lives he may have saved, but he says he won’t rest until every one gets the medical checkup he thinks they deserve.
“No reason for a kid to die right now, no reason. They could die from something else but not from sudden death syndrome.”
For more information about Dr. Steingard’s clinic, please visit http://athletehealth.org/