EKG saves athlete's life at Skyview HS

Posted at 9:23 PM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-28 04:03:36-04



A life-saving machine in the Nampa School District works perfectly for a young athlete.  That same machine not only helps teach students in the classroom but also changed the life of one former athlete at Skyview High School.

Filiotama'ita'i Church played 4 years of high school football and ran track. One day, while helping Rusty Sullivan, the athletic trainer, Church was the first athlete tested by the EKG machine. The results would change his life forever.

“Got the results a quick glance he said everything looked fine when he looked more into it he was kinda concerned and he sent it to three other doctors and they all confirmed that have this rare heart condition that's called WPW which is Wolff Parkinson wife syndrome,” said Former Skyview High School Athlete Filiotama'ita'i Church.

“I've probably told 50, 60 kids that their ACL is torn and their season is over but to come across something virtually can kill the person is the next ten steps above anything like that,” Skyview Athletic Trainer Rusty Sullivan said.

Wolff Parkinson White syndrome or WPW is a heart defect which deals with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.

“So rather than have a single beat go thru your heart you end up with two beats.  If you are out running around and your heart rate is a 150 which isn’t super high in activity within two or three beats it goes to 300 and now your in afib and you are unconscious and down,” said Sullivan.

Learning about Church’s condition was a difficult one, as you could imagine, it was also life altering for Sullivan.

“Anytime you tell a parent that their kid could kick over any moment if his heart rate accelerated and it just happened to be the way basically just has a heart attack and dies right there on the field,” said Sullivan.

“I took it pretty hard. None of my family has had heart issues,” said Church.

Church had surgery to repair his heart and only had to stay inactive for two weeks.  By end of last summer, he was already training to play football at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana and has gone from the practice squad to starter by the third game of the season.  Filiotama'ita'i now has a clean bill of health, and Sullivan has become an adopted family member of the Churches.

“During my surgery, he stayed there when I went in till I got out.  He took time away from his family to come be with me and mine,” said Church.

“Luck of the draw, whatever, fate has it.  I found the needle in the haystack on the first haystack first needle first everything.  It's pretty rare and pretty amazing,” said Sullivan.

Filiotama'ita'i hopes to start for Rocky Mountain College for the rest of his time in school.  After graduation, he plans to become a coach when his football career is over.

As for Sullivan, his goal to is to keep working to help prevent other cardiac events in student-athletes in the Nampa School district.