Before RAAM 2014, team Twisted Swissters was excited to compete.
They were in good hands with their team leader Philippe May. Upon
arrival in San Diego, Philippe was not feeling well so he was taken to the
emergency room at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla. The crew chief was
afraid of blood clots or something that had developed during the flight.
In addition, Philippe’s doctors in Switzerland were also a bit uneasy about
recent exam results from some routine tests. Philippe had a strong family
history of heart issues. Both his father and uncle died of sudden cardiac
death. His father died at age 39 and uncle died a few days later at 41. The doctors in the US were very concerned and began doing a battery of tests.
After almost a week of testing and discussion by the expert team of doctors at Scripps Health, Philippe was diagnosed with ARVD. His condition was considered urgent and it was just too dangerous to leave the hospital and race more than 3000 miles or 4800 kilometers. Philippe had to have surgery to implant an ICD (defibrillator) to ensure his heart would not stop suddenly. Sudden cardiac arrest is the most common result of ARVD and it is most often deadly.
On June 13th 2014, Dr. John Rogers, a specialist in the field of ARVD and ICD implants performed surgery on Philippe at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla. Because of Philippe’s athletic build and lifestyle, Dr. Rogers implanted the Medtronic Defibrillator between the major and minor pectoral muscles.
Looking into the future can often be scary. Especially for someone whose life has just been completely turned upside down. Dr. Rogers however and his team, including Dr. Gibson and Dr. Patel and their staff, are all optimistic that Philippe will be able to compete in RAAM in 2015. It has given Philippe a new lease on life. Philippe has been ramping up his training, working towards full intensity workouts. It has been refreshing because he can enjoy the surroundings of his home in the Alps where beauty is abundant and every corner, road, mountain and rock is waiting to be explored and appreciated. He is careful not to over do it at the moment and wears a heart rate monitor to keep his heartbeat under control. He has been working with Dr. Frey in Martigny, Switzerland on a plan to move forward and return to his normal lifestyle.
The positive attitudes of the US doctors as well as Dr. Frey here in Switzerland are encouraging and enlightening. It is wonderful to see doctors who look at the whole patient and what makes that patient continue on with life. We have realized that it is so important to fulfill the needs of every person who is affected by an illness.
This is why our team has decided to raise money for the new building at Scripps Prebys Cardiovascular Institute in La Jolla, California. Our goal is to raise enough money at this state of the art heart hospital to name an exam room in honor of Dr. Rogers so he can continue his amazing work. Not only is he a brilliant doctor, he has become an important part of Philippe’s life. His sensitivity to his patient's needs is outstanding and inspirational. He is also a charitable doctor who works with an organization that does free screenings for teenage athletes to find ARVD before sudden cardiac arrest occurs. This is important work in the field of cardiology, but it is also important for the lives of many young athletes who do not have access to screening. We hope to show that life can go on after an ARVD diagnosis and ICD implant. Team Twisted Swissters is proud to race with an ARVD patient and raise awareness and money for this cause.
Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/Cardiomyopathy
ARVD/C is a genetic, progressive heart condition in which the muscle of the right ventricle is replaced by fat and fibrosis, which causes abnormal heart rhythms. ARVD/C is estimated to affect one in 5,000 people. The disease can affect both men and women. It accounts for up to one fifth of sudden cardiac death in people under 35 years of age.