Thrive by IU Health

June 06, 2022

Unearthing a legacy of heart trouble

Unearthing a legacy of heart trouble

“Soccer has taught our family a lot over the years,” said Janelle Guidry. “Like how to roll with the punches when things don’t go the way you hope.”

Janelle’s son, Max, is a Division I soccer player who’s spent most of his 20 years on the planet excelling in a physically demanding sport. Until last year, he didn’t know he’d been playing with a potentially life-threatening heart condition.

After receiving a bid to play soccer at IUPUI, Max went in for a routine EKG as part of his student athlete physical. The doctors discovered that Max suffered from long QT syndrome (LQTS), a genetic heart condition in which the time between heartbeats is prolonged. In some cases, it can lead to fainting or sudden cardiac death.

The power of prevention

Thanks to funding supplied by IU Health Foundation supporters Laura and Jon Pickett, Max’s immediate family were able to receive a free genetic screening. Janelle tested positive for LQTS as well, uncovering a lineage of genetic heart trouble that led back to her father.

“In total, seven of my extended family members ended up testing positive for LQTS,” Janelle said. “Without IUPUI’s health requirements for their student athletes and support of donors like the Picketts, we would have never known.”

Guidry family with IU Health Cardiologist Richard Kovacs, MD

Reunited on the field

In the fall of 2021, the Guidrys met the Picketts and their daughter, Lilly, at Carroll Stadium on the IUPUI campus where Max will one day play his first game for the Jaguars. “Philanthropy at its core is rooted in humans and the love of mankind,” Laura said. “Meeting Max and understanding how many folks in his family got tested who wouldn’t have otherwise known they had this condition, that was powerful. You can imagine the dire outcome that can result from not knowing.”

For Janelle, meeting the Picketts was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I support various charities but when do you ever get the chance to meet the recipients of your generosity? And vice versa?” Janelle said. “When I met the Picketts, I said to both of them, ‘Thank you for supporting the Foundation, because it’s people like you who affect people like us.’”

Grateful patients Janelle Guidry and her son, Max, thank IU Health Foundation supporters Jon and Laura Pickett

For Laura, walking out onto the field at IUPUI and meeting the Guidrys immediately took her back to her college athletics days of playing Division I basketball. “It was evident that Max has poured his heart into his craft of soccer. Being aware of his condition will make all the difference as he continues to pursue his dreams,” she said.

Janelle and Max now travel with an AED and take medication every day to manage their LQTS. Max is practicing with his teammates and preparing for the day he can represent the Jaguars on the field. “It’s definitely a relief to know that I can be back out there pursuing my dream of playing Division I soccer,” Max said.

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