Running leads St. Stephens senior to discover heart problem


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A runner that couldn’t run. The confusing predicament Saint Stephens senior Josh Morgan spent months trying to figure out.

“I ran the time that I ran when I was in middle school and I thought I shouldn’t be getting that slow again,” Morgan said.

Morgan is a cross-country athlete with a goal of running in college, yet his times weren’t close to competitive. Feeling fatigued and short of breath, Morgan and his family started looking to doctors–an echo-cardiogram provided the answer.

“A week later I went for the echo and that’s when they discovered the big tumor,” Morgan said, who had previously been tested but it failed to show any issues.

Morgan’s heart wouldn’t let him run as the blockage was stopping his blood flow. Dr. Craig Siegel, sports cardiologist at Heart Hospital of Austin at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, diagnosed the issue and a day later Morgan endured open heart surgery.

“If I wasn’t a runner I probably wouldn’t have noticed it and I probably wouldn’t have gone on in for that test and they probably wouldn’t have discovered it,” Morgan said. “One of the doctors was like you might have just been walking up a staircase in college and you would’ve just dropped.”

Morgan’s heart condition was only discovered when his heart was put to the test. This is the reason why many local physicians are pushing for open and available testing to all young athletes.

As for Morgan, he returned to his team months after surgery. He competed in his first meet two weeks ago.

“I think back I had this student participating for two years with this condition. I wish we had caught it. I wish we had this done,” St. Stephen’s head athletic trainer Kathy Fitzgerald said.

“This is why a lot of us feel like conditions are missed because kids don’t get screened or they don’t have access to screening,” Dr. Siegel explained.

Now, feeling back to form, the senior is back at what he loves.

“I’ve pretty much fallen in love with [running]. I don’t know really where I’d be if I didn’t have running.”

This is true. Running and a sports cardiologist saved his life.

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Austin-Travis County

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