For 13 years, Smyrna High School (SHS) student Collier Nodine, now 15, was an athlete. If there was a sport to be played, he was doing it.
In January of his 13th year, he and his family came down with the flu. Collier's mom, Jelaine, works as a dispatcher for Smyrna's emergency services, and she took the family to the city's medical clinic for a diagnosis.
The medical personnel who looked at them said Collier's heart didn't sound right. Jelaine and her husband, Scott , knew Collier had a heart murmur but didn't think anything about it.
Rather than releasing him to go back to school and take physical education and play sports, the doctor referred the family to Collier's pediatrician. The pediatrician agreed that "the murmur was loud," Jelaine said, "but also said that when you're sick they can sometime be louder than usual."
They were referred to a cardiologist and Collier, was taken by his grandparents to the doctor's appointment.
"Mom called me on the way home and said, 'Jelaine, you need to get out of the 911 center. The cardiologist is going to call you in a minute. He's very sick and needs to go to Vanderbilt tomorrow.' The cardiologist called me and told me he had (a genetic heart disease called) Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM for short," Jelaine said.
Immediately, Collier had to give up playing sports.
"You know you hear about these basketball and football players passing away on the field or the court," Jelaine said. "Most of them have this. There are no symptoms or signs of that. Basically, the muscle that runs through the heart and is separated by the chambers grows thick and enlarges the heart. In Collier, it's covering his heart valve and it doesn't allow blood to flow properly."
That's why New Jersey recently passed a law that all student athletes had to have the Echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart, as a part of their sports physical.
"It is our hope to raise awareness for HCM," Jelaine said. "We would like all states to pass a law that would require an athlete to have an Echocardiogram before playing organized sports. In Tennessee and other states, passing a law, such as the law that was passed in New Jersey, could save lives," Jelaine said. She said there are no cures for the disease, except for a heart transplant. Collier hasn't gotten to the point that he needs that and she hopes he never does. What he did need was a portable Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to take with him in case his heart stops.
Collier's sisters Kate and Olivia, along with Jelaine's mom, Carolyn Bowman, set up a GoFundMe account and raised $2,800 to purchase the unit.
Collier is an Eagle Scout and part of that entails taking three trips: One to Minnesota, one to New Mexico and one to the Florida Keys. In order for his doctor to sign off on his attending those trips, he had to have the AED. Because the trip to Minnesota was a hiking and canoeing trip, the family also purchased a water-proof case for the unit.
"Colllier told me, 'mom, these three trips are like the Triple Crown of the Scouts,'" Jelaine said.
Collier recently returned from the trip to Minnesota, where everything went well. He had the time of his life, Jelaine said. The trip to New Mexico is mainly a hiking trip to the mountains next fall.
"Both trips has to be scaled back and changed some to accommodate his special health safety needs, she said.
In April, Collier had an incident at school and was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. The rest of the GoFundMe money was used to help pay for his medical bills from that day.
Jelaine said one in every 500 people have HCM.
"It has no symptoms," she said. "It's very miniscule and often gets overlooked. You may feel some fluttering of your heart after you run. That might just be that, but it could be more. This is more frequent than people realize and they often don't know they have a problem. The only way it can be detected is by an Echocardiogram."
The Nodine's church, La Vergne Freewill Baptist Church, is trying to raise money for an AED for their church. They see the importance, Jelaine said.
Jelaine said she'd like to thank all of the people who donated to the GoFundMe account and for those who prayed for him.
Collier has been a member of the Police Athletic and Activities League (PAL) Youth and Families chapter, based out of Smyrna. The program doesn't offer as many sports programs as it does programming such
as mentoring, a teen group, youth self-empowerment classes, conflict resolution and more. Collier has turned to PAL Executive Director Gerry Howse during this time for support.