Health

High School's Heart Screening Saves Teen's Life

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Robbie ArwoodRobbie Arwood

Robbie Arwood, 17, seems like a picture of good health: He’s a 6-foot-3 athlete who has played basketball and soccer since he was a child. But two years ago, doctors he learned he has a heart problem, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.

Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome means a person has an extra electrical pathway in the heart which causes a rapid heartbeat, notes the Mayo Clinic. Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome usually isn’t fatal, but it can cause complications.

Robbie was initially made aware of the problem when he received a free electrocardiogram screening at McLean High School in McLean, Virginia,  provided by The Ryan Lopynski Foundation.

“They took one quick glance and said yeah, you need to go see a professional cardiologist and get this looked at. You have something wrong,” Robbie told WRIC. “It shocked me.”

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The Ryan Lopynski Foundation was started by John and Jeremy Lopynski in memory of their son Ryan, who died due to an undetected heart problem when he was a freshman at Virginia Tech. “We thought to ourselves, we’ve got to do something to try to minimize this happening to other parents and so we started the foundation,” John said.

Within months, Robbie underwent surgery to correct the problem. “He literally went in and had the procedure and we took him home that night,” said his mother, Nikki. 

Today, Robbie is a healthy and active teenager and he still plays sports.

He credits the organization with keeping him alive. “The Ryan Lopynski Foundation, that family saved my life,” he said. 

“I can never say thank you enough to the Lopynskis,” Robbie added. “They’re wonderful people.”

Nikki agreed: “They took something absolutely horrible that happened to their family and they turned it into something wonderful. I just can never repay them ever.”

Sources: Mayo Clinic, WRIC / Photo credit: WRIC

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