There are countless children who are unaware they may have underlying cardiac conditions. Ben Godbout was one of them until his parents pushed for his diagnosis.
hero_image_alt_text===An image of the Godbout family.
In May 2015 our son, Benjamin was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM. HCM is a genetic condition that causes an abnormal thickening of the heart muscle which impacts the heart’s ability to effectively pump blood and oxygen to the rest of body. This genetic condition is more common than you’d think. It affects 1 in 500 people and is the leading cause of Sudden Cardiac Death in student athletes. Prior to Benjamin’s diagnosis, he played hockey, baseball and ran track. During and after practice Benjamin would frequently complain of dizziness, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue. We noticed he was taking himself off the ice more than usual. He was wheezing and having extreme difficulty breathing after his track meets. As his parents, we assumed Benjamin was dehydrated and encouraged him to drink more water. His coaches assumed he was out of shape and he needed to work harder. We stand before you today as the lucky ones and appeal to your sense of reason. Our son, Benjamin, was diagnosed. We are extremely fortunate that our son was diagnosed early. It’s counter intuitive to say we’re fortunate to know our son has heart disease. But we are fortunate. Given his diagnosis, Ben has made lifestyle choices that help to keep him safe. There are countless children in our schools who are unaware they may have underlying cardiac conditions.
The Godbouts have been educators in public schools for 20 years, but took up the cause of the risk of heart conditions two years ago after Ben was diagnosed. Barrie and Steve believed that by fighting to require AED's in school the law will save lives of students who have diagnosed cardiac conditions and ones who are unaware they may have cardiac conditions. It will also t that the countless adults who pass through schools each and every day. The American Heart Association has been fortunate to have the Godbout's be passionate advocates for legislation requiring AED's in Schools. They continue their advocacy while working on legislation that helps coaches and parents recognize symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest.