Traumatic Brain Injury is a “Blessing” For One Teen

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It is extraordinarily rare that you hear someone call a traumatic brain injury a “blessing,” but for one student in Illinois, his brain injury might just live up to the term.

Zak Lampl dove out of bounds for a ball during a freshman basketball game and smashed his head against the stands. The events that followed changed his life.

“Absolutely, it was a blessing” Dina Lampl, Zak’s mother, told Northwest Herald. “I would have never even thought of having an EKG done for my son. He wasn’t showing me any kind of symptoms.”

Unlike most brain injury patients, Zak’s injury had actually saved his life. An electrocardiogram (EKG) revealed warning signs which led doctors to send the teen to a heart specialist where he was diagnosed with a 20-millimeter hole between the upper chambers of his heart, known as an atrial septal defect, or ASD.
ASD can create a deficiency of oxygen in the blood that causes fatigue and exercise intolerance. It can also reduce the lifespan of a person.

The first cardiologist the Lampl’s visited told them the only option was an open heart surgery, which needs around six months of recovery and can leave patients with long-term pain. Zak thought the prospect of being pulled away from sports for six months “depressing”, but another cardiologist suggested an alternative catheter procedure.

It has been over two months since the surgery, but Lampl is on his way back to his normal self. He’ll have to see a cardiologist regularly for the rest of his life, but he should be able to live a normal, active life. He’s already back in sports and is training at the local fire department. Truly, this is one of the only times a person can be thankful for TBI.

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