On March 4, 1990, Hank Gathers, a power forward on the Loyola Marymount basketball team, collapsed mid-game, moments after scoring a dunk off an alley-oop pass against the University of Portland. He died hours later.
Hank’s posthumous diagnosis, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), is the most common cause of sudden cardiac death in athletes. Often diagnosed with an echocardiogram—an ultrasound of the heart—HCM is treatable.
Fourteen years later, a high school junior named Doug McWhorter received his yearly screening physical; a necessary step to be eligible for high school baseball.
Doug’s screening that day, completed by a team of well-known volunteer physicians, was free. Team of Physicians for Students (TOPS) provides sports physicals screenings with cardiac testing to student athletes at high schools across Arizona, free of charge.
The cardiologist who evaluated Doug that day remembers his case well: “His tests were grossly abnormal. We did an echocardiogram right there and found that he had HCM. It was a good thing because both his father and brother were also diagnosed with HCM.”
The program, inspired by the story of Hank Gathers, has now served nearly 50,000 students in more than 80 schools. The TOPS model has been replicated in cities across the United States.
Copyright © 2023 AZ Team of Physicians for Students - All Rights Reserved.