Lindsay Wilcox, NBCDFW.com
Living 4 Zachary heart screenings for teens are offered at a discount rate Saturdays at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.
On the field, Zachary Schrah looked like the pillar of health.
"He was over six feet tall. He weighed 220 pounds, very fit," recalls his mother, Karen Schrah.
But on April 2, 2009, the tenth grade Clark High School offensive lineman collapsed during a practice.
"I was in the parking lot around six o'clock to pick him up from football practice and got a call from Zack's dad, Troy, and he said something happened to Zack," said Schrah.
"As I approached the field house, a police officer stopped me, and I just knew something terrible had happened at that point because they wouldn't let me any closer," said Schrah.
Paramedics rushed Zachary to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a few hours later. Karen soon learned Zachary had a heart defect that led to sudden cardiac arrest. She also learned it could have been diagnosed through a simple screening.
"When I was with Zack waiting for the medical examiners office to come and get him, I just knew that God, there had to be a reason that God took him," said Schrah. "There had to be something bigger and better for me to do in my life that would make a difference, because he couldn't just be gone."
A few months later, Karen started Living 4 Zachary, a non-profit she formed to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest in young people, particularly athletes.
"It (sudden cardiac arrest) is three times more common in athletes than in youths who don't participate in athletics. Estimates vary from one to five percent of college and high school age youth being affected by sudden cardiac arrest or at risk," said Dr. Brian DeVille, M.D., F.A.C.C., Electrophysiologist at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano.
By partnering with The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, Living 4 Zachary is now offering in-depth heart screenings every Saturday at a reduced rate of $100. Typically, the screenings would cost a thousand dollars or more, and are not covered by most insurance plans.
Since September of 2009, 226 patients have been seen. Fourteen percent of them required further evaluation.
"It is a double-edged sword," said DeVille. "I don't like to tell a young man or woman they can't do something they love, but when it comes to a life and death decision, the recommendation comes pretty easy."
It's a screening and recommendation Karen Schrah only wishes her son would have had.
"It's bittersweet, when you hear of someone we've helped, but that's why we're doing it; to raise awareness, so that other families can find out," says Schrah.
The Living 4 Zachary heart screenings are open to anyone ages 13 to 22. To find out how to make an appointment, click here.