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Former Miss Ohio's 'Lindsay's Law' continues to prepare coaches and athletes for cardiac emergencies

"Lindsay's Law" has been around since 2017, but it's back in the spotlight for American Heart Month and following the medical emergency of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin.
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Posted at 7:26 AM, Feb 16, 2023

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A Lakewood native has turned her medical emergency into a teachable moment.

She's working to keep young athletes safe all while educating their coaches and parents on heart health.

"Lindsay's Law" has been around since 2017, but it's back in the spotlight for American Heart Month and following the medical emergency of Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin on the football field.

If you have a student-athlete or maybe you coach, you're more than likely very familiar with Lindsay's Law.

You must complete the certification ahead of the season.

Lindsay Davis turned her near death experience into a critical training element that is saving the lives of children across Ohio.

Scanning through old photos of herself over the years, Davis says she is stunned that she was unknowingly living with a deadly heart condition.

"I was a healthy young athlete. I looked like the epitome of health," Davis said.

Back in the day, Davis dreamt of becoming a professional ballerina, training seven days a week, hoping to one day attend Julliard.

Her world was turned upside down after she began fainting repeatedly, her heart constantly racing in the studio.

"My mom kept saying, you know--she's having these symptoms in a dance class. She's not able to run the track in school. What is going on with my daughter? And I was misdiagnosed with asthma, with chronic fatigue syndrome," Davis said.

She ultimately came to the Cleveland Clinic, where they determined she had a heart murmur and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

"It means where the heart muscle is taken out of proportion to other explainable causes. This occurs in about one in 500 patients. Some people seem to think it may occur in one in 200 people," said Dr. Milind Desai, Cleveland Clinic Director of the Center for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Medical Director of the Center for Aortic Diseases.

The diagnosis was initially devastating, but it's also motivating for Davis.

She knew she wanted to do more.

No longer able to dance—she entered pageants and won Miss Ohio.

"Just because you have something like this that happens to you, it doesn't mean your life is over," Davis said.

Lindsay became a heart health advocate, working every day to educate and raise awareness on sudden cardiac arrest.

In 2017, her legislation, "Lindsay's Lawm," officially took effect.

Lindsay's Law requires parents, coaches and students to learn the signs of sudden cardiac arrest and how to best respond.

A sudden cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating, cutting off blood flow to the brain and other vital organs. A defibrillator is often needed to treat the condition immediately.

"It was an incredible feeling to be able to go into those meetings with legislators and represent them and say, you know, this is what we need to kind of fight on their behalf," Davis said.

The certification has been a game-changing moment for student-athletes.

In the meantime, Davis praises the actions of the coaches and medics who saved Damar Hamlin's life.

She says their response highlights the importance of hands-on training, regardless of how fit an athlete may appear.

"With education comes awareness, it comes preparedness. And in the case of Damar, we knew what to do in that situation," Davis said.

Davis wants young athletes to know that having a heart condition is not a death sentence.

She continues to go for regular appointments and lives with a pacemaker implanted under the skin.

It's a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (S-ICD).

She also has worked on legislation regarding CPR and the proper use of AEDs, and is actively pushing for more safety measures across the United States.