Grafton teen died of heart conditon, Franklin man seeks to prevent similar tragedies
GRAFTON - The Ozaukee County Coroner determined Thursday that Grafton High School basketball player Joshua Davis-Joiner likely died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic thickening of the heart muscle that often leads to sudden cardiac arrest.
Davis-Joiner, 17, collapsed during practice Monday evening and died later that night.
For electrocardiographer Paul Johnson, Davis-Joiner's death is both tragic and all too familiar.
"One in 500 people are born with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy," he explained. "Every three days we hear about an incident like this, and I don't think people are aware of just how devastating this disease can be."
Johnson is, however, and founded Champion Hearts to help combat it by making HCM screenings accessible to as many young athletes as possible.
"When doctors order these tests at a hospital, they can be very expensive," he noted. "But we are able to use a portable echocardiogram machine to take the tests to the students. That makes the screenings easy and inexpensive."
In fact, Johnson said his screenings take no longer than ten minutes, and he charges a small fee only to cover his expenses. His goal is ensuring that every young athlete is able to be tested.
"That was my whole mission; to be able to go to the high school or go to an athletic facility and I wanted to do this for a very inexpensive cost and I wanted everybody to be able to participate."
"We want people to have this test for a low cost, just for peace of mind to know whether or not they have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. If we do see another problem, then we alert the parent, who can then go to their own doctor and investigate further."
Though Davis-Joiner's death ultimately may not have been preventable, Johnson has made it his life's work to ensure that as few young athletes as possible share his fate.
"We just want to save lives," Johnson said. "That's why we're here."