Save Date: 2/3/2003
Activity: At basketball practice
The Hoover High School Lady Buccaneers Varsity Basketball Team were hosting Oak Mountain for the Girls Class 6A Region 6 championship. In most years, this would have been just another game on just another night. But this game was much more than that.
The most important player on the floor would not score a point, grab a rebound or even log a single second of playing time. The most important fact about the most important player was simply that she was there, in uniform and warm-ups, sitting on the Hoover bench to cheer on her teammates. It had been one week to the day that Ashley Shepherd, a sophomore, had collapsed on that very same gymnasium floor.
On February 3, 2003, at approximately 4:00 pm, Ashley collapsed during a routine water break in practice. School surveillance cameras captured the event.
"It looked like Ashley was bending over to tie her shoes and she just collapsed," said Hoover Athletic Director, Ron Swann. Timely CPR by Hoover coaches Lori Elgin, Matt Moore, athletic trainer, Brandon Sheppard, and an Automated External Defibrillator, stored just yards away, revived Ashley's heart and saved her life.
Ashley was diagnosed with a condition known as Prolonged QT Syndrome, a genetic abnormality of the heart electrical system due to defects in the cardiac ion channels. Ashley underwent surgery to have an ICD inserted in her chest.
Her twin sister, Amanda, also was diagnosed with the same disorder. Amanda is currently being treated with medication. Both girls have since turned 16. Because the symptoms of Prolonged QT Syndrome are often precipitated by physical exertion, both girls have had to restrict their sports activities. However, they are both doing great. They work to earn a little money, go out with their friends, and get to do all the things normal 16-year-olds get to do, thanks to the availability of an Automated External Defibrillator and the quick action of Brandon Sheppard, Coach Elgin and Coach Moore.
Since Ashley's episode, the Hoover School System has purchased and installed AEDs at all of its schools and athletic facilities. In addition, because of the awareness Ashley's episode raised in the surrounding communities and across the state, hundreds of AEDs have been purchased and place in schools, recreational centers, and places of business throughout the state.