This article first appeared in the Rushville Republican on 4/26/2016.
The Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation Board of Directors is pleased to announce the formation of the Jake McKee Heart of Gold Fund. This fund was created through collaborations between the RMHF Board and the John and Niki McKee family.
Jacob Thomas McKee was a healthy, loving, very active 4-year old who died suddenly in the fall of 2015. “Jake was running in the yard and told his dad that he didn’t feel good. Those were the last words that he spoke”, according to family member Sandy Gwinnup. His family is now taking steps to help others from suffering from this sudden cardiac death.
Jake had a polyp next to his aortic valve that blocked the valve and stopped blood flow to the Jake’s body. Although Jake had his well-baby check-ups and annual pediatric visits, this condition could not be detected. There are tests, however, that possibly could have detected this condition but it is not performed unless symptoms are shown. Jake unfortunately had no symptoms. Nationwide, Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) affects nearly 40,000 births per year and approximately 7,200 of those births have critical CHD, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The SADS Foundation explains, “Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) are genetic heart conditions that can cause sudden death in young, apparently healthy people. Each year in the US 350,000 die suddenly and unexpectedly due to cardiac arrhythmia. Almost 4,000 are young people under 35 years of age. 1 in 200,000 high school athletes in the US will die suddenly, most without any prior symptoms.” Stated by the McKee family, “Possibly 1 in 200,000 is not a number that alarms you. But if your child is that 1, it is life-changing.”
The Jake McKee Heart of Gold Fund will provide free heart scans at Rush Memorial Hospital through their RMH Pediatrics Office for any child from birth to age 18. This test will be provided for Middle School and High School athletic physicals with parental permission. “We are honored to offer this scan to our young athletes and pediatric patients. If one life is saved it is worth everything. Our thanks goes to the McKee family for their generosity in providing this screening to our children,” stated Karen Meyer, RMH CFO and RMHF Board member. Information about screening dates will be publicized in the future once the fund is fully established.
“Now the work begins”, shared Faith Mock, RMH Foundation Executive Director. “The McKee family and the community need to raise the $10,000.00 to fully establish the designated fund and then raise additional monies to provide the screenings. We will use these funds forever, as we will never run out of children to be screened. How can you help? Attend one of the upcoming fundraisers and/or make a tax deductible donation to: RMH Foundation, 1300 North Main Street, Rushville, IN 46173 (please mark McKee Fund on your memo section) or you may donate online at www.rushmemorial.com/Foundation. Gifts may also be dropped off at the RMH Foundation Office located on the first floor of Rush Memorial Hospital. Acknowledgment of your tax deductible gift will be sent to the donor in writing.” What is the value of the life of a child? There is no amount that can be placed on that life. This community needs to come together to make a difference in the health of our children. Have a heart. Let’s do it for Jake.