Dana Hills High student is alive, thanks to mom whose daughter died after cross-country meet
May 14, 2019
DANA POINT — Every day for the first 14 years of her life, Ali Aga would lie down to sleep to the sound of her heart pounding. Only recently has the now-15-year-old Dana Hills High School freshman gotten used to the sound and feeling of just hearing her breath.“Now that I’m totally fixed, I don’t feel anything,” Ali said of her heart. Ali is fixed thanks to the efforts of her Dana Hills High School tennis coach; her mother, Tina Aga; her doctors; but mostly because of Gail Myers. Myers’ 14 -year-old daughter, Megan Myers, was running in a Dana Hills cross-country meet at Laguna Niguel Regional Park in 2007 when she stopped abruptly and told her mother she wasn’t feeling well. As the pair walked to their car, Megan collapsed, unconscious. Her coach, a former firefighter, performed CPR, but by the time an ambulance arrived, it was too late. Megan Myers died an hour later.
February 25, 2018
A Sunday, Feb. 25 event aimed to strike back at a big killer of young athletes: sudden cardiac arrest.
More than 200 student-athletes lined SilverLakes Equestrian and Sports Complex in Norco for free heart and health screenings to protect against such an emergency. Organizers said each screening would have cost about $1,500 at a hospital.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death for young athletes, killing thousands each year, but could be prevented by heart screening, SilverLakes founder RJ Brandes said in a statement.
“SilverLakes is fast becoming the largest center for youth athletics in Southern California and it’s paramount that we take a leadership position in educating and caring for the health of our athletes,” Brandes said.
“Heartfelt’s cardiac screening saves young lives”
February 22, 2017
Laguna Beach-based nonprofit Heartfelt will be offering cardiac screening at the high school during the school’s Breakers Day on Monday, Aug 28 – because heart disease, if detected early, does not have to lead to death, emphasizes founder of Heartfelt, Holly Morrell…
Morrell says that knowing the difference between a heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest is a vital factor in prevention.
“Until people understand this, they will fail to realize that their seemingly healthy, active, young loved ones can be at risk,” she says. “The media often shares the tragic story of a young athlete dying on the playing field (it happens every three days in this country) yet often fail to inform the public that it was most likely a preventable tragedy.”
Morrell adds. “You can live a full and happy life with heart disease, you just need to know you have it.”
“Heartfelt program saves young lives: screening scheduled on Breakers Day at LBHS”
When I have occasion to tell people about my father’s early death at the age of 39 back in 1965, I explain that he died of a heart attack (even though he was slim, athletic and apparently healthy).
Now, for the first time in all these years, thanks to Heartfelt, I’ve learned that there is a difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest.
Holly Morrell has a truly heart-warming tale to tell
Holly Morrell has a loving and compassionate heart. But it’s defective.
In all the good ways a heart can work; in caring for others, by giving back to the community, and enriching the world with her healthy spirit, Holly’s on top of the world. But in all the bad ways a heart can be broken, literally, that’s in her chest too.
Before she was born, people considered it a shame that her father’s mother had died so young. Even when her father’s sister died at the age of three, it was just one of those tragic things that happen. Thirty years ago the medical world considered cardiac arrest as a relationship to lifestyle, activity, or medication.
But when Holly’s father, Chuck Morrell, was 57 years old he required a heart transplant, and then two of Chuck’s twin brother’s children died. One survived a full cardiac arrest at the age of 14.
Finally, cardiologists at the National Institute of Health identified the genetic component doing its dirty work.
The Morrrell’s have suffered the loss of six of their 11 family members due to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). Today, two live with devices implanted in their chests to prevent sudden cardiac arrest, and one received a heart transplant in 2010, as Holly’s father did in 1995.
February 23, 2013
Laguna resident Holly Morrell was going under the knife again, the sixth procedure in nearly a decade.
A defibrillator planted in her chest required repair. Two wires, or “leads,” were fractured, meant to connect to veins near her heart that monitor rhythm and correct dangerous flutters. Another lead was under factory recall. The procedure was delicate and considered high risk, but with the rising number of implanted devices, extraction or lead removal is required more frequently, according to the American Heart Association.
For those with heart implants, a defibrillator malfunction is an even worse fear than facing surgery.
Even so, Morrell took her time, allowing six weeks to prepare herself, to go about her life as an advocate for the screening of heart conditions, a silent killer that endangers lives of an unsuspecting population. Her own tragic history led to her professional calling.
Jennifer Gustafson will always remember June 1. A letter arrived that day saying that a recent medical test her daughter Dillon had taken identified a potentially fatal heart defect. Moreover, the threat was considered so imminent, the letter warned, that Dillon should cease immediately any activity that could excite her heart.
Laguna Beach Community Foundation trustee Bob Dornin greets grant recipient Holly Morrell, founder of Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, whose mission is to prevent Sudden Cardiac Death through early detection, education and increased public awareness. Heartfelt Cardiac Projects was one of 27 non-profit recipients.
“The Morrell Family’s Fight Against Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy”
EP Lab Digest
February 24, 2011
Detective of the heart
Holly Morrell lives with a heart ailment that can kill, but if detected early, is survivable.
Nearly two years ago, a seemingly healthy 21-year-old man signed up for cardiac screening at the Heartfelt Cardiac clinic in Laguna, as part of a requirement on his physical examination to become an overseas missionary. To his surprise, the tests revealed a large hole in his heart, a condition that would call for immediate medical attention and open-heart surgery.