By Thomas Himes, Staff Writer
A Bishop Amat High School football star remained hospitalized in a semi-conscious state Tuesday after his heart stopped during an emergency medical procedure to save his life.
Austin Lacy, 17, had been complaining of fatigue the past few weeks, so his family checked him into Huntington Memorial Hospital on Monday. There, doctors discovered a heart infection had caused Austin’s chest to fill with fluid, said his father, Darryl Lacy.
Doctors transferred Austin to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for an emergency procedure to drain his chest. “As they extracted the fluid, his heart stopped and they had to massage it to get it pumping again,” Darryl Lacy said.
Doctors planned on draining a half-liter of fluid from the area around Austin’s heart, but discovered three and-a-half liters once the procedure got under way, Darryl Lacy said.
“He had a virus that attacked his heart and created fluid,” said Darryl Lacy. “They said it would be a simple procedure. The simple procedure turned into a nightmare.”
Despite the seriousness of his condition, doctors expect the 17-year-old to recover, said his father.
“The doctor was marveled by the fact he was lifting weights and attending basketball practice with a condition that would kill most people,” Darryl Lacy said. “Because he’s so healthy and works out, he’s expected to make a full recovery.”
Austin, of Pasadena, also plays basketball for Bishop Amat. He missed Friday’s 4AA semifinal game with flu-like systems.
Coaches and family members projected Austin to be one of the area’s top football players next year.
Before the start of his junior year in September, the standout linebacker transferred from Pasadena High School to Bishop Amat.
“I was just shocked and amazed that this happened to him,” said Kevin Mills, Austin’s former coach at Pasadena High. “He’s just an excellent young man with so much going for him. I was devastated by this news.”
Students, coaches and teachers at Bishop Amat have sent their best wishes to the family, Darryl Lacy said.
“We love Bishop Amat and all it’s done for us,” he said. “His teachers have texted me and some of his coaches stopped in to see how he’s doing.”
The teachers and coaches of Bishop Amat declined to comment, saying they had been asked not to speak to the media by Principal Merritt Hemenway.
Hemenway did not return calls for comment.
In his junior year at Bishop Amat, Austin made second-team All Serra League.
Standing 6 feet 2 inches and weighing 210 pounds, Austin runs the 40 yard dash in 4.7 seconds, according to online scouting reports.
Although colleges aren’t officially allowed to recruit him yet, UCLA, the University of Missouri, the University of Oregon and the University of New Mexico have expressed interest, Darryl Lacy said.
Lacy did not know when Austin would be able to play sports again.
“I know he will be in the hospital for at least another week,” Darryl Lacy said. “But he’s breathing on his own and blinking his eyes.”
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