Clayton Harmeyer // Lincoln Athletics

Reid Athletic Trainer Denny McCord monitors Clayton's blood pressure.

Reid Athletic Trainer Denny McCord monitors Clayton’s blood pressure.

Lincoln athlete Clayton Harmeyer headed to the doctor to get his junior year school sports physical.  He was looking forward to another year of sports, and this formality was one step to get him on his way.

The year before, a Reid physician noticed something in his heartbeat that was a bit concerning, but didn’t seem to be serious.  This year, when Clayton sat face-to-face with the physician, he heard a similar comment.  It was time for tests.

Working with Cardiologist Dr. John McGinty, Clayton had several tests learning he had an enlarged heart, common for athletes.  However, Dr. McGinty wanted to perform a stress test to be sure there were no underlying issues.

“Dr. McGinty called me after hours and said Clayton’s blood pressure was through the roof,” Andrea said.  “Because of Clayton’s age, he wanted us to see a pediatrician.”  Clayton soon began medication and was monitored at Reid by pediatric cardiologist Dr. Leonard Steinberg.

Clayton needed his blood pressure checked prior to playing sports, so every day Athletic Trainer Denny McCord would monitor Clayton’s blood pressure to see if he was in the safe range to join his team.  “Only one time all year was it low enough to practice,” Clayton said.

“Denny was just really good through it all.  He had the bad job of telling him every day he couldn’t play,” Andrea said.  “At no point did we want to take any kind of chance.”

Although Clayton’s blood pressure was under control, he continued feeling palpitations.  Denny recommended he see his physician again, hoping everything would be okay and Clayton could return to football.  Unfortunately, this visit led to another test and a diagnosis beyond hypertension – supraventricular tachycardia.  Clayton needed a heart surgery.

Clayton was nervous about the diagnosis and upcoming procedure.  “I was worried I would never get to play again,” Clayton said.  “Denny said I would be fine – he cared.”  Following an eight-hour catheterization, Clayton’s heart was repaired.  In just two days, he was allowed to play basketball again.

“It is just a comfort knowing someone is there,” said Andrea.  “Denny has been great!”

Clayton’s final sentiment – “Thank you.”