May 20, 2015
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Ricky Santiago of Florida Atlantic underwent open heart surgery less than a year ago to repair a hole in his heart.
He suffered from a birth defect known as Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return that was diagnosed last season after years of suffering through shortness of breath during strenuous activities.
Blood had been flowing into the wrong heart chamber for years which was causing his heart to enlarge. While not a serious problem for children, the situation becomes riskier as a person ages.
Incredibly, his condition was misdiagnosed since he was 11 years old as a doctor felt he suffered from asthma. Only after he clutched his chest last season during a mid-March game at Rice playing first base did it hit home that another diagnosis was needed and ordered by FAU Head Coach John McCormack.
This time after a thorough exam and an MRI was performed, a hole was discovered in his heart which was an apparent genetic flaw since birth. Surgery was performed 2 1/2 months later.
Santiago said that he suffering from shortness of breath his entire life during strenuous activities but really didn’t realize it was a problem. He felt it was just part of what was transpiring because he didn’t know any other feeling.
“I started seeing a doctor at the age of 11 for this issue,” said Santiago, who plays third base for the Owls this season.
“When I was younger, I played football, basketball and baseball. Most of the time when I played football or basketball with the amount of running involved, I would experience chest pains.
“Once I started having those symptoms, my parents took me to a doctor who diagnosed my problem as being asthma as he gave me an inhaler. We pretty much left it at that until my sophomore year of college.”
Santiago said that despite the misdiagnosis, he was not in serious jeopardy of being killed from the condition as long as he didn’t wait for surgery too long.
“Once they found out what my problem was, a surgeon wanted to open me up and repair the hole in my heart as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more enlarged your heart can get and the harder it is to fix.”
To read more of the in-depth story on Ricky Santiago, purchase the May 15, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.