PENSACOLA, Fla. — A terrifying situation for a teenage athlete and his family as he collapsed, unresponsive at a basketball game.
Jaylen Clausell has stacks of college letters and invitations from schools across the country. His first sport is football, but in March 2018 he was on the court for a school basketball practice. He fell to the floor. His heart was failing.
“I remember basketball practice and nothing after,” Clausell said.
He woke-up in a hospital bed in Pensacola. His heart would fail again soon after and then a transfer to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. Doctors would diagnose him with a rare genetic condition known as ARVC. Dr. Parag Patel with Mayo Clinic’s transplant department explained.
“This part of the heart will enlarge and fatty infiltration can lead to fibrillation and when you have fibrillation, it can lead to cardiac arrest,” Dr. Patel said.
His heart would fail twice before he would be considered for a transplant. Jaylen’s mother, Cielita, by her son’s side through it all.
“Just showing patience and having faith – the prayers have been outpouring my goodness,” Clausell said.
In October, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville performed the surgery. A ticking-clock moving a healthy heart from a donor into Jaylen in just hours. He has been recovering steadily in the months since, but staying close to the hospital.
Dr. Patel said Jaylen’s youth and athletic drive are on his side.
“When we asked him to do physical therapy, and work harder it wasn’t hard to push him he was actually the first to work hard at that,” Dr. Patel said.
Video of his rehabilitation taken by his mother as she cheered him on. His eyes still on those recruitment letters.
“I just want to get back to it, back to everything I was doing before,” Jaylen said.
He faces another test before doctors can give him the all clear and eventually send him back home.