For those of you who are familiar with Advocates for Injured Athletes' story you know Brittan, along with Tommy, Will and Nolan as the faces of the Athletes Saving Athletes™ program. They are the original ASA™ Ambassadors, each surviving a potentially fatal injury or medical emergency while playing sports as teens. These ambassadors are growing up and making their own impact on the world. Brittan will be turning 21 this month.
It has been five years since Brittan’s sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and since that time Brittan has been focused on learning more about the conditions that cause SCA and other unexplained deaths. Ultimately, she wishes to become a physician scientist with a focus in cardiology to help unravel the mysteries of SCA in young people. As part of those efforts she is preparing to take her MCATs and has spent the last two summers completing a research fellowship at the Mayo Clinic doing work in the area of Sudden Unexplained Deaths and Sudden Infant Deaths. In addition, she is hoping to raise at least $10,000 for Advocates for Injured Athletes.
Brittan played sports from a very young age, was a nationally ranked tennis player and dreamed of playing tennis in college. All of that changed on December 5, 2008 at the age of 16 when she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during swim practice. Fortunately for Brittan there was an AED at the recreation center which brought her back to life after two shocks. It is estimated that 90% to 95% of SCA victims die without immediate treatment from an AED. Brittan, was diagnosed with CPVT (catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia) after a year of testing. As a result of the CPVT she had a device implanted that can detect and address the cardiac arrhythmia and takes medication daily. Her surgery was performed by Dr. John Rogers, a cardiologist at Scripps Health and Medical Director of Advocates for Injured Athletes.
Brittan was initially told that she would not be able to return to sports following her diagnosis, a life altering directive for someone who had always been an athlete. In hopes of learning more about her condition and whether or not she’d be able to return to sports she and her family sought out the advice of Dr. Michael Ackerman, MD, PhD , cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Ackerman ultimately allowed Brittan to return to sports and Brittan is a member of the tennis team at Claremont McKenna College (NCAA Division III) heading into her senior season.
In her efforts to raise funds for A4IA Brittan has turned her 21st birthday celebration into a fundraising event. She is asking in lieu of gifts that people make donations to A4IA on her behalf. The celebration will be held on September 1, 2013 and is by invitation only. Attendees will have the opportunity to donate directly at the party as well as bid on a few auction items. If you're interested in donating and helping Brittan reach her go, check out the A4IA Facebook page for more information.
As Brittan’s mom, Kim, said, “Brittan has taken some lemons and made some really great lemonade.” A4IA is proud to have Brittan as an original ASA Ambassador and looks forward to seeing her continue on her journey to become a physician scientist and continue to make a difference. A4IA also thanks Brittan for her continued efforts in supporting the ASA™ Program. Brittan has left quite a mark on ASA™ already, but it’s obvious she’s only just getting started.
Submitted by Heather L. Clemons, MS, MBA, ATC