IONIA, Mich. (March 8, 2014) — The same enlarged heart condition that took the life of Grandville High School athlete Ryan Fischer also took the life of an Ionia Middle School student last Fall.
The family of 11-year-old Nicholas Bennett said that they know the same pain the Fischer family is feeling after the sudden death of their child.
Nicholas Bennett, 11, was just six-months-old when his mother died from an enlarged heart condition. Afraid his son inherited the same gene, Nicholas’ father, Joe Bennett made sure he was screened by doctors.
“He had testing done for a few years after his mom, and everything seemed to be fine from there,” said Bennett.
Just like Ryan Fischer, Nicholas was very involved in sports.
“He was athletic, loved his sports, you know basketball, football, baseball, skateboarding, riding bikes,” said Bennett.
Nicholas was healthy all his life, until this past August when his family said that he experienced shortness of breath during football practice, and later developed pneumonia-like symptoms.
“It was heartbreaking. There is really nothing you can do, just watch him lay there two weeks and you know you can’t do anything,” said Joe Bennett.
Over the course of a few weeks, Nicholas grew sicker. He suffered several strokes before being diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy; the same heart condition that took the life of Ryan Fischer.
“Watching all of that, I don’t want anyone to experience all that, especially a young child. That’s just not right,” said Bennett.
11-year-old Nicholas died on September 25, 2013.
“Family, friends, you know people sending letters and cards, schools sending poster boards and t-shirts. The whole community pitched in and helped,” said Bennett.
Bennett said that awareness of the condition can hopefully inspire other parents to have their children screened.
“The word is getting around of Cardiomyopathy, and if more and more people know about it, then maybe more testing will get done and can prevent things like this from happening,” said Bennett.