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Gamechanger: Youngster, family prepare for new approach to sports

Gamechanger: Youngster, family prepare for new approach to sports
Gamechanger: Youngster, family prepare for new approach to sports | Gamechanger: Youngster, family prepare for new approach to sports

Jaren Paul Dodson (right) and his brother, Eli.
Special Features Editor
He is 6 years old. And like most little boys his age, Jaren Paul Dodson is heavily “into” sports — especially baseball. His dad, Josh Dodson of Seneca, Mo., has been his coach in the game.
Jaren Paul will be a spectator and fan, rather than a player, from now on, however. And he tells his family, including his dad and his mom, the former Cheryl Sawyer; his grandparents, John and Judy Sawyer of the Shawtown community; and his little brother, 3-year-old Eli Dodson, “I think I’ll take up painting.”
This is the reason why: the handsome little boy has been diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a genetic heart disease in which electrolytes can go haywire. When that happens, there is the distinct possibility that cardiac arrest may occur. In some cases, death may be the end game.
A world collapses
Jaren Paul’s body hadn’t given off any clues about the threat it housed until the boy collapsed while running the bases at a practice game near his home April 5. By the time his dad and other adults realized something was wrong and raced to his side, the child was in cardiac arrest. Frantic calls were made to 911 and the family ended up in the emergency room at a Joplin, Mo., hospital, where he underwent an EKG that showed irregularities, prompting medical personnel to send their little patient on to a hospital in Springfield, Mo., for additional tests.
From there, Jaren Paul was referred to specialists at Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, where a cardiologist reviewed still more tests and finally diagnosed the problem.
Shortly thereafter, surgeons implanted a defibrillator in his heart through a surgical procedure and started him on a regimen of Beta blockers that he will have to continue daily throughout his life.
That is what he must do each day.
What he must not do is put stress on his heart. So he will not play baseball. He will not run and jump and kick and dance. He will, instead, discover new interests and talents and skills that enrich his world but do not put his heart at risk.
It will be an adjustment.
It will be a challenge — some days more than others.
It will be a learning experience for all those who know and love him.
It may also prove to be a blessing in ways no one can fully anticipate or appreciate until the story plays out.
A part of that blessing would surely be the knowledge that people who care for Jaren Paul and his family are thinking of them, praying for them, sending good wishes their way.
The family’s address is Josh and Cheryl Dodson, 4482 Quince Road, Seneca, MO 64865.
Mrs. Dodson is a graduate of Obion County Central High School.
Published in The Messenger 4.23.12