High school cross country runner receives life-changing surgery

High school cross country runner receives life-changing surgery
Published: Oct. 18, 2023 at 10:48 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - What started as a coach hoping to introduce a new training method to his cross country team, turned into a life-changing discovery.

“I had some heart rate monitors, I was like, ‘guys do you care, during your track workouts, if you wear these?” said Perry Central High School Cross Country Coach Jason Barnett.

“I honestly thought it was something natural the entire time, guess I was wrong,” said Aden Schwartz.

With those monitors, Cross Country coach Jason Barnett noticed an abnormality with one of his runner’s heart rates.

“I think it was his resting heart rate really. He was pushing up close to 80, upper 70s.”

Perry Central Junior Aden Schwartz says they got him to a doctor, and found it was much worse.

“If I was out running, they said I could drop dead instantly.”

After an echo-scan on his heart, Aden was diagnosed with congenital heart defect. His cardiologist along with Dr. Baha Alsoufi identified what was wrong.

“It’s when one of the coronary arteries is not originating from the area of the aorta that it’s supposed to, but instead, it’s coming from the other side,” said Dr. Alsoufi.

Aden was left with no choice

“You’re going to have to get open heart surgery to fix it.”

He had the operation last Tuesday.

“A sports medicine doctor, he thinks I can be running again four weeks from surgery,” said Schwartz.

He hopes to make it back by track field season in the spring.

“Now, as I go into things, I’m tough enough to go through anything. I’m more confident. I can go through and push through pain and boundaries and things like that, mentally and physically.”