Aug 20, 2012, 6:25 PM EDT
It’s doubtful any player is more pumped about the upcoming season than Allan Chaney.
The former Virginia Tech forward thought his career was over last August. He collapsed during an offseason workout and was later diagnosed with myocarditis, a disease that causes heart inflammation and can be fatal. Hokies doctors didn’t clear him to continue playing.
But word emerged a few days ago that Chaney had a procedure to plant a defibrillator in his chest to help control the myocarditis and that he would transfer to High Point for one last season. That’s great news for a guy who wasn’t ready to quit.
How’d this all happen? Connor Letourneau from the Baltimore Sun wrote a fine feature on Chaney and the Philadelphia doctors who helped him. An excerpt:
Moments after walking into Dr. Francis Marchlinski’s Philadelphia-area office for the first time in the fall of 2010, Chaney received the most positive news he had heard since collapsing in practice six months earlier.
Marchlinski, a University of Pennsylvania cardiologist who specializes in electrophysiology, had already looked over his medical records and told Chaney he could get him playing competitively. He mentioned a new wireless defibrillator, one that would be less likely to break or malfunction during extreme physical activity.
The only problem? It was a brand-new device and already had a two-year waiting list.
No matter. Marchlinski helped secure him a spot in a case study for the defibrillator — rapidly accelerating the process.
So last November, six months after Marchlinski performed a successful ablation procedure on Chaney, the doctor installed a backup defibrillator into the 22-year-old’s chest. It offsets the possibility of irregular heartbeats and dramatically lowers the risk of another heart episode occurring.
However, because doctors were still able to induce irregular heartbeats when testing him under extreme conditions, Chaney underwent another surgical ablation procedure at Pennsylvania in March. Immediately after the surgery, Marchlinski stimulated Chaney’s heart and “could not initiate any [irregular heartbeats],” Marchlinski wrote in a June news release.
After several more tests, Marchlinski granted Chaney medical clearance May 18 to resume his basketball career.
Chaney’s aware of the basketball players who’ve had similar conditions and died such as Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis. But Will Kimble, a high school assistant who played at Pepperdine and UTEP, spent the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons playing with a defibrillator. He’s the only player to do so. Others have had the chance, but walked away because of uncertainty.
Chaney knows the risks. I hope his season goes by uneventfully. Wish him luck.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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