Trinity Player’s Dad: ‘A Miracle’ Son’s Alive

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“It wasn’t looking good” for lacrosse player struck in chest, father says.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/29/07

Blessed Trinity lacrosse player Matt Ivie, who suffered a life-threatening injury when he was struck by the ball in the chest during a March 16 match, said he plans to return to sport this season.

School officials have declined to speak on the incident, but David Ivie, the player’s father said he thought “had lost his son for a minute or two” after he was struck in the heart area from a ball hurled from around five feet away traveling as fast as 80 mph.

“I really thought he was maybe slipping away,” the elder Ivie said.

“He was motionless, he wasn’t breathing, and the trainer said his pulse was getting weaker and weaker. His eyes were open, but the pupils weren’t moving. He had blood coming out of his mouth and nose.

“It wasn’t looking good, that’s for sure.”

Ivie said Blessed Trinity trainer Preston Bazemore had cut off his son’s uniform, and hooked up electrodes from the defibrillator across the chest area. Fortunately, the shock treatment was not needed because the player somehow regained consciousness.

“Matt blinked, and then he coughed, as if he was under water for a long time. Then he took a deep, deep breath. It was a miracle.”

When a lacrosse ball, baseball, hockey puck, softball strikes a player near the heart area at a precise moment between beats, it can cause contractions that lead to rare from of death called “commotio cordis.” According to U.S. Commotio Cordis Registry, more than 130 cases had been reported by 2001.

The elder Ivie said while doctors say his son’s life was “in danger,” they don’t believe he experienced commotio cordis because only the use of a defibrillator can restart the heart, and Blessed Trinity’s defibrillator was hooked up but never used. He said the doctors were reviewing the readings from the machine, but may never know exactly what happened.

Matt, 16, said the only thing he remembers is falling to the ground after the ball deflected off his body in Roswell private school’s match against McIntosh, which was immediately canceled after the incident. Ivie was transferred to Scottish Rite hospital, where he said he was diagnosed with bruised heart and lung and remained under observation for two days.

“It was a freak accident, but it made me think about what I am doing with my life, and how I should change it around because you never know if today will be your last day,” Matt said. “I feel lucky to be alive, and I am so thankful to Mr. Bazemore.”

Matt said his chest area remains sore, but that doctors told him he suffered no permanent damage and could be given clearance to return to lacrosse by the second week of April. His parents have purchased a pair of shoulder pads that are longer in front, providing more protection for the chest area.

“We decided we wanted to tell Matt’s story because we want to get the word out about this [danger],” the elder Ivie said.

“Even though there may be only one chance in a million of this happening, there’s still a chance. Fortunately, Blessed Trinity had the right people and right equipment when it happened. They invested in those resources for the safety of our children.

“There may be other schools out there that don’t think they need these resources at lacrosse matches or other events, but hearing about this may convince them otherwise, to make it more of a priority.”

© 2007 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution