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Florida athlete is alive thanks to school requiring an EKG

Madi Hecox is alive thanks to receiving an Electrocardiogram screening.
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Posted at 4:25 AM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 10:16:20-05

LAKELAND, Fla. — Electrocardiogram.

The word may not roll off the tongue the way the basketball rolls off Madi Hecox’s fingertips, but it does sound pretty sweet to her.

"I think when you tell people how EKG testing can save lives and you tell them just that, if it weren't for them I could've died," Hecox said.

Electrocardiogram is abbreviated ECG or EKG.

Madi's attends Southeastern University. The school requires all students athletes receive an EKG screening

The screening Madi received found an issue with her heart.

"I think that's why I don't question why we do what we do," said BJ Gaesa, Southeastern's Head Athletic Trainer.

RELATED: Woman has no doubt Apple Watch's Electrocardiogram saved her life

BJ has a special bond with Madi. The emotions are still pretty raw.

"BJ was literally there every step of the way through everything," said Hecox. "I'm very fortunate to have a trainer like that and for this opportunity to get a heart screening and have my life saved."

The EKG is a simple test. Ten leads connect to the body which read electrical activity in the heart. A report is sent to a cardiologist.

Madi needed surgery. She is now cleared to return to the court. Sadly, not everyone gets that second chance.

"I know institutions that have had athletic deaths, this year. These things happen all of the time," Gaesa said.

Many experts agree the EKG test is the best tool to identify anyone at risk. Just like it was the perfect tool for Madi.

"This is something that can be done in a doctor's office within Universities, High schools, easily!" Gaesa claims.

So why isn’t it required on all schools and Universities?

I reached out to the Hillsborough County School District, the largest district in the Tampa Bay area and the 9th largest in the country.

"We have not considered mandating an EKG or ECG because we do not have any way to address what happens once the results are provided," said Tanya Arja, Hillsborough County Public Schools Spokeswoman.

Gaesa explained if your child's school or university does not provide a heart screening, as a parent you need to self advocate and seek one through your family physician. That way you can make sure everything is okay.

Madi is learning how to conduct EKG's herself. She partnered with "Who We Play For" a group dedicated to providing affordable heart screenings to student athletes all over Florida. Visit their website to register. Also Parent Heart Watch strives to see heart screenings become mandatory for all student athletes.