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Calum Haggett joins calls for more heart screening

Sunday 17th April 2016

Men’s First Team

Kent all-rounder Calum Haggett has joined the calls for more awareness around heart screening for athletes following the retirement of England batsman James Taylor due to a heart condition.

Haggett, 25, was diagnosed with an aortic root dilation and leaking heart valve in 2010 after a routine check-up at Loughborough before an England Under 19 tour.

Doctors told him he could have died within two years but open heart surgery resolved the problem and allowed him to resume his cricketing career.

The former Somerset man said: “I was very lucky as I felt fit and healthy and there were no symptoms when I was hit with the news. It was quite a shock.

“It was genetic and passed on from my father who was screened and had the same condition, which required the same surgery.

“To be told you have a heart condition and you could’ve died so soon. The first thing I though was can they do anything?

“I wasn’t too worried about cricket for the first week or so and the support from the ECB and Somerset kept me going.

“I went for regular check-ups after the surgery and thankfully I’ve been able to continue my career at Kent and I’m happy and enjoying my cricket.”

The ECB test routinely every two years but cases such as James Taylor and others go undiagnosed.

“There’s always more that can be done and the finances need to be made available.

“I was screened in 10 minutes and it saved my life.”

12 young people die every week from undiagnosed heart conditions and charities such as Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) work to raise awareness and funding for subsidised screening programmes for young athletes.

Former Kent captain Rob Key is a patron of CRY after his friend Ben Simpson who lost his life playing hockey.

“I have been very fortunate to enjoy a career playing cricket, however a close friend of mine, Ben Simpson, with whom I grew up playing sport, suddenly lost his life whilst playing a game of hockey.

“CRY does a fantastic amount of work in raising awareness and encouraging cardiac screening for young people.

“It gives me great pleasure to support the work of CRY to ensure we reduce the number of such tragic cardiac deaths each year.”

Kent seamer Ivan Thomas also lost a close friend when Leeds-Bradford MCCU teammate Tom Hardman died at the age of 21.

Thomas raised several thousand pounds for CRY last year after cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats.

Another CRY ambassador, Paul Daniels, is Haggett’s shirt sponsor and has raised more than £150,000 in memory of his son Ben who suddenly died playing football in March 2011.

Click here for more information about CRY screenings