AP NEWS

Teen who went into cardiac arrest on court looks to future

January 7, 2019
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In this Dec. 12, 2018 photo, Clate Pendergrass watches a ball go in the net during a game with Wren at TL Hanna High School in Anderson, S.C (Ken Ruinard/The Independent-Mail via AP)

ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — Clate Pendergrass has spent a lot of time in cardiologists’ offices over the last year — enough to change his career aspirations.

In November 2017 during his sophomore year at T.L. Hanna High School, Pendergrass went into cardiac arrest while playing in a varsity basketball game.

Pendergrass was revived thanks to the quick actions of an athletic trainer who used an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, to shock him.

In January 2018, Pendergrass had surgery to get an implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, after he was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome, which can cause sudden death and “fast, chaotic heartbeats,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

But, after a recent visit to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, his family found out that original diagnosis of Long QT was incorrect.

While this means he is still trying to figure out what condition he may have, the news was welcome for the Pendergrass family.

Long QT is genetic and all of the men in his family were believed to have the same gene.

“It was a relief,” Pendergrass said. “There are a lot of medicines you can’t take and things you can’t do with that diagnosis.”

Pendergrass will visit the Medical University of South Carolina at the beginning of January to run more tests and, hopefully, pin down a diagnosis. He said it is still hard not knowing what went wrong, but he is glad to have the ICD as an internal “backup plan.”

While he has not returned to play basketball with T.L. Hanna, Pendergrass has been able to get back on the court. He plays for the church team at Central Presbyterian and was proud to share that his team is currently 5-0.

He decided against going out for the school team because of the unknowns.

“I didn’t want to make a guarantee to the team that I could play and then have something happen,” he said.

In the spring, he hopes to try out for T.L. Hanna’s golf team.

Since the incident, Pendergrass has tried to help the community by raising money for AEDs. With the help of his family, he has donated 11 AEDs to places like soccer clubs and schools.

Pendergrass has also continued sharing his story.

During the fall, he took a biomedical sciences class — a first step toward a career in medicine.

“After going through all that I just feel like going to medical school and being a cardiologist is something I can do because now I can talk about my story and how things affect me,” he said.

The incident has impacted the whole Pendergrass family.

His dad, Brian now has an app on his phone that locates the nearest AED.

His mom, Ansley, is the head soccer coach at T.L. Hanna. She said what happened with her son made her softer as a coach and has changed some of the culture at the high school.

“I used to say, ‘You are fine, keep running.’ Now I say, ‘Are you OK?’”

Where are they now?

This is part of a series during the holidays in which The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail are taking time to update some of our most well-read stories of the past year, and some other stories that our readers regularly ask about.

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Information from: Anderson Independent-Mail, http://www.andersonsc.com