A student and cross country runner from Tennessee suffered a massive heart attack following a Florida race on Saturday last week.
17-year-old Gabe Higginbottom, a junior at Bartlett High School in Tennessee, was taking part in the cross-country race in Pensacola, Florida, before the incident.
Kris Harman, the cross country coach for Bartlett High School, said he could tell something was wrong when Gabe finished the race.
“He started complaining about his chest hurting and kept complaining and we went to the trainer’s tent…everybody initially thinks it’s hot, it’s heat exhaustion so give him ice but he’s still complaining about his chest,” Harman told News Channel 3 in Memphis.
Gabe was rushed to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola Hospital, where doctors found the runner’s right artery was completely blocked.
The student later underwent a three-hour emergency surgery where doctors discovered two blood clots.
The Bartlett City Schools released a statement following the incident:
“On Sept. 10, after a race in Pensacola, FL, one of Bartlett High School’s Cross-Country runners suffered a heart attack. Gabe Higginbottom, 17, a junior at Bartlett High School was sent to Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola Hospital at the advice of the on-staff medical team. Sacred Heart performed a CAT scan which revealed further action needed to be taken.”
“Gabe was transported to the UF Shands Heart and Vascular Hospital in Gainesville, FL by helicopter that night.”
“In Gainesville, they found his right artery was completely blocked. The doctors performed an angioplasty to insert a balloon to open up that artery. Later, they performed a 3-hour surgery inserting two stents and found two blood clots.”
“Cross Country coach, Kris Harman, and Gabe’s mother, Edrika, remain by Gabe’s side, as he is currently recovering at the UF Shands in Gainesville, FL. A Go Fund Me page has been set up by the Cross Country Booster Club,” the post added.
“The money raised will be used to offset any medical bills. No amount is too small. Please pray for Gabe and his family as he begins the rehab process,” the post concluded.
Phil Clark, the athletic coordinator at Bartlett City Schools, told Memphis Commercial Appeal that doctor said the heart attack was not heat related.
“The doctor at the hospital he’s at, he told our track coach he had seen one (other) instance like this in his 11 years down there,” Clark said.
Gabe is said to be working toward recovery.
“They’re going to get him up and get him walking down the hallway this morning and they think everything is going to be fine,” Clark said Tuesday, Sept. 13.
“He’s a strong, healthy young man, which surely helped in this situation.”