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Francis Howell Central junior saved by athletic trainers after collapsing at district track meet

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – A Francis Howell Central high school student is recovering at home after collapsing during a race at the Class 5 District 3 Tournament in Wentzville last weekend.

Ezra Bailey, 17, was entering the final lap of his 3200 race when he suddenly collapsed.

“I knew something was wrong when on the straight-away of the seventh lap he was passed by the guy he was hanging closely with,” said his mother, Rhonda Bailey. “He passed the start line and the official signaled it was his final lap and he started slowing down.”

Confused, Bailey said she knew her son was aware he had one lap to go.

“My initial response is, ‘oh shoot, he thinks he’s done,’ kind of thing because all of a sudden he’s walking, but then it was clear he wasn’t really walking, he was staggering and went down.”

Bailey collapsed on the track, mere feet away from several Timberland High School athletic trainers who were helping other athletes after a race.

“We were told an athlete had fallen,” said Kyle Bishop, a certified athletic trainer at Axes Physical Therapy. “You don’t really ever know what that means until you get there and see what’s going on.”

Bishop said Bailey was unconscious and appeared to be suffering from convulsions before he and his team began looking for vital signs and assessing the next steps.

“Very quickly there were a few of us along with some off-duty nurses and we had a plan to start CPR,” he said. “I ran to get the defibrillator but thankfully, the CPR was able to restart his heart and we didn’t end up needing to use it.”

Bailey was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he remained sedated for several days.

“I woke up and I kind of asked my dad what happened and he said, ‘you passed out and your heart stopped for 18 seconds,’ and at that point, I didn’t really believe him–I was like, no, that’s not me,” Bailey said.

But it was in fact him, suffering from a rare heart condition. Bailey said last fall he fainted after a cross-country race, but because he was coming off of a recent illness, his parents were unsure of the cause.

“We ended up getting a heart monitor just in case, and we’re glad because it was able to provide us some excellent information when this happened,” said Bailey’s mom.

On Tuesday, he underwent surgery to receive an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, a small battery-powered device that helps detect and stop irregular heartbeats. While his spring track season is over, he hasn’t made a decision about cross country in the fall, as he enters his senior year. Doctors said he should recover fully and have not ruled out all physical activity, such as running.

“I feel like I’ve put too much effort in and made that the most important thing in my life,” he said. “I should probably focus on family and my relationship with God more. But, when the time comes to make a decision, we’ll talk about it as a family.”

Once he has fully recovered, he hopes to reunite with Bishop and the team of medical professionals and bystanders who helped save his life.

“We were so impressed,” said his mom. “They didn’t stand around and wait to see if he was okay, they immediately went over to him and that’s exactly what he needed.”

She wants other parents to take note of possible signs and seek a doctor’s opinion for symptoms that could represent a larger underlying medical issue.

“A lot of kids fall to the ground, especially after the race from just pure exhaustion and giving it their all,” she said. “Ezra doesn’t do that, so I knew something was off. It’s all about knowing your kid and just being aware of possible signs.”

Francis Howell Central junior saved by athletic trainers after collapsing at district track meet
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