Student heart check screening changes - and saves - Macomb teen's life

- A Macomb teenager felt fine and looked healthy, so he was shocked when a routine screening changed his life. 

A year ago, 17-year-old Nick Jaison's life took an extraordinary turn. After a routine exam last fall, his pediatrician recommended a student heart check. 

"I never had symptoms, I never had anything so going to the heart check seemed like a waste of time, honestly," he said.

"He was in perfect health," his mom, Denise, said. But because of Nick's love of running track and winter sports she figured she'd drag him to a Beaumont student heart check. 

"Beaumont started this program because our cardiologists were aware of students in our community passing away, even after having sports physicals, from heart conditions they were unaware of. Our doctors knew we had tests that we could perform to help save them," said Jennifer Shea, manager with Beaumont Student Heart Check.

Tests like a blood pressure check, and then two different looks at the heart. 

And on that October day, the picture of Nick's heart was troubling. 

"One of the guys that was doing the EKG on me, he pulled over the doctor and then another doctor and then they were like, 'We're going to go get your mom.'"

Nick and his mom were then told he had something called Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome, a very rare but potentially serious electrical problem in the heart caused by abnormal pathways that can disrupt the rhythm causing fainting, a rapid heartbeat and even sudden death. The news was shocking. 

"It was life changing, actually. You have to really try and keep it together. It was very hard to do that," Denise said.

For Nick, the sudden knowledge that he had a potential fatal heart flaw was overwhelming. He went home to Google his diagnosis - and only then realized what had just happened. 

"I couldn't really feel the impact of it right then [at the doctor's office], it was such, just a life changing thing that I didn't know how to react to it I guess. This heart check just offered this opportunity to find this hidden disease. It was amazing."

Doctors decided the best treatment for Nick was a surgery to destroy the extra electrical pathway, thereby fixing the defect in his heart. Christmas of 2017 was spent recovering from surgery and for both of Nick's parents there is such relief and gratitude. 

"We are so blessed to have found that program and gone through everything," Denise said.

Now, this high school senior at Lutheran North in Macomb has big goals. Nick is inspired. 

"To become a pediatric cardiologist and help out at the same type of event because the blessing it gave my life is just so amazing that I could not, I wish I could one day repay it," he said. 

The heart check is free thanks in part to Children's Miracle Network.

The next screening for any one ages 13-18 is this Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018 in Sterling Heights. To attend, you'll need to register. You can get more information on that here.

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