A week of anxiety surrounding the Kansas University football family ended on a happy note Wednesday, when freshman quarterback Kerry Meier was cleared to play again after undergoing a procedure to combat a potentially serious heart ailment.
"A great ending," said Dr. Larry Magee, KU's head team physician. "Best possible ending you can have."
Meier will resume practicing Monday with no restrictions. The Pittsburg native underwent treatment for Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, which is caused by an abnormal conduction circuit in the heart.
According to the American Heart Assn., a normal heart has one conduction pathway that moves electrical signals, causing the heart to beat. WPW sufferers, though, have an extra pathway, which can lead to abnormal functioning.
"They can have episodes of rapid heartbeat," Magee said of the symptoms. "There's all sorts of severity of them. Some people get the feeling that their heart is racing, and they don't get any other symptoms. Some get light-headed and dizzy. Some people actually pass out."
Meier reported no symptoms, which isn't rare. Those diagnosed without symptoms don't always need treatment, but considering the physical exertion Meier's body goes through, Magee said it was a good idea to undergo a procedure.
"The pathway is more likely to act up when you're exercising," Magee said, "but it can act up when you're just at rest, too."
A "catheter ablation" was performed to zap the extra circuit with radiofrequency energy. Magee deemed it a success.
"He had a lengthy procedure on Friday," Mangino said. "He was brought back in Tuesday as a follow-up, and they did not have to do another procedure because his testing was all good. He is absolutely fine, he's going to be back practicing and back to normal. There's nothing to worry about."
Magee said a successful procedure usually cures the patient, so Meier likely won't need any additional medical treatment.
The decision to require advanced cardiac screening for each incoming football player was implemented in the spring of 2004 after Mangino did research on deaths of football players at several universities. The fourth-year coach approached Magee about implementing more detailed tests to catch ailments, and the idea then was approved financially by KU administration.
"We can't prevent everything," Mangino said. "But we're taking steps to do the best we can to limit problems."
Due to HIPAA laws, the Meier family didn't have to disclose what ailed Kerry. But the family decided to, partly to raise awareness about the positives of cardiac screening.
The family, which includes Kerry's parents and brothers Adam, Dylan (Kansas State quarterback) and Shad (New Orleans Saints tight end), released a statement through KU on Wednesday.
"We are : very appreciative of the efforts by the University of Kansas, Coach Mangino, the athletic training staff, coaches, and doctors to insure that our student-athletes are screened and tested to discover conditions that may otherwise go undetected," the statement read. "All of you have been very supportive and extremely helpful.
"Finally, we are very grateful for the positive outcome. As we have learned, both the physical and the mental heart of an athlete is God's most precious gift."
¢ No Lamb: Kansas University junior Jonathan Lamb did not dress out in last week's game and will be sidelined indefinitely.
"He's going to be out for a while here," coach Mark Mangino said, declining to elaborate.
Lamb, an Olathe native, was a reserve receiver and holder on field goals and extra points. Brian Murph took over holder duties Saturday.
Though Mangino did not specifically say why, kicker Scott Webb hinted Lamb was injured.
"It was kind of bad timing, because Lamb didn't get hurt until a few days ago," Webb said Tuesday. "It's kind of tough working in a new holder three days before a game."
¢ Versatile Herford: Mangino gave another hint after practice Wednesday that freshman wide receiver Marcus Herford may be getting some looks at quarterback.
Herford worked as scout-team quarterback during his red-shirt year, but moved to receiver to get more playing time. With the holdout of freshman Kerry Meier and injury to senior Jason Swanson, Herford might have to be a last-resort option again.
"We have never divorced him from that position," Mangino said. "We've always said that we'll get you reps when we can."
¢ No decision yet: Mangino said a decision on how to use his quarterbacks - namely Adam Barmann and Brian Luke - would be a game-time decision.
"That's the right thing to do," Mangino said. "We don't plan to do this every week, but this week, I think it's appropriate."