Monday, December 4 2023

Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Keyontae Johnson has launched a new nonprofit organization, “The Key to My Heart,” in collaboration with Heartfelt Cardiac Connections dedicated to saving lives through critical cardiac initiatives.

Likewise, the organization aims to improve cardiac health and emergency preparedness by providing communities with access to life-saving Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and cardiac screenings to save lives through early detection.

The NBA rookie wants to help young athletes avoid his health scare. Johnson, 23, was selected 50th overall by the Thunder in the 2023 NBA Draft out of Kansas State University.

During his NCAA career, the 6-foot-6 forward dealt with heart-related issues. As a result, he received further medical examination by the NBA to determine whether he could safely work out with teams.

Furthermore, Keyontae Johnson did not participate in the physical tests of the NBA Draft Combine. Nonetheless, the Virginia native was cleared by the NBA’s Fitness to Play panel to practice with teams on May 26.

On Dec. 12, 2020, Johnson collapsed on the court during a basketball game at Florida State. His life was saved by an AED. The junior forward was taken to the locker room on a stretcher before he was rushed to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Johnson was in a medically induced coma for three days.

On Dec. 15, it was reported that he was awake and responding to commands. On Dec. 28, Kansas State head coach Mike White announced that Johnson had rejoined the team as a coach.

Additionally, “The Key to My Heart” will be donating an AED to Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, where he played prep ball.

Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Keyontae Johnson launches “The Key to My Heart” foundation to save lives through critical cardiac initiatives

Moreover, the cause of his heart problem was never disclosed. Though, Johnson had tested positive for COVID-19 in the summer of 2020, just months before he collapsed on the court.

The coronavirus can lead to myocarditis, a viral infection of the heart muscle. Sudden cardiac arrest is a critical complication of inflammatory cardiomyopathy. 

After additional health screenings, it was revealed that it wasn’t because of the coronavirus. As a matter of fact, Johnson’s family released a statement to address the rumors.

In February 2021, the family denied the claim in an official statement that read: “University of Florida Health treating physicians consulted with other local and national experts who reviewed the relevant imaging and testing related to this case.

“The unanimous conclusion of all experts is that Keyontae’s medical emergency was not related to or a result of a previous or current Covid diagnosis.”

Not to mention, Johnson felt lucky to be alive. “I was passed out,” he told NBC News in an interview in February 2021. “I could have died. … You just can’t take life for granted.

“When I woke up, I thought I was dreaming when I saw my mom in front of me. I was still really drowsy, but I could kind of open my eyes.”

Official press release from Heartfelt Cardiac Connections, “The Key to My Heart”

The official press release from Heartfelt Cardiac Connection and “The Key to My Heart” is posted below.

“Today marks a momentous occasion as we proudly unveil ‘The Key to My Heart,’ a newly established nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through critical cardiac initiatives. In collaboration with Heartfelt Cardiac Connections, ‘The Key to My Heart’ is thrilled to announce its inaugural donation – an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) – to Oak Hill Academy, the very institution from which our founder, Keyontae Johnson, graduated.

“This life-saving AED will forever be a testament to survival, perseverance, and our commitment to save lives. The journey of ‘The Key to My Heart’ began when Johnson experienced a life-altering moment in 2020. Struck by a cardiac incident, Johnson’s life was saved by the timely use of an AED.

“Fueled by this momentous experience, Johnson felt a calling to give back. With this nonprofit and partnership with Heartfelt Cardiac Connections, we aim to empower communities, schools, and organizations with the resources they need to save lives.

“The AED being donated to Oak Hill Academy stands as a symbol of hope and resilience, reinforcing the commitment of ‘The Key to My Heart’ and Heartfelt Cardiac Connections to prioritize the safety and well-being of our communities.”

Earlier this year, Heartfelt and Johnson helped save the life of an 11-year-old gymnast at a heart screening. Besides staying healthy on the court, the NBA rookie hopes young athletes will receive the help and support they deserve. The Oklahoma City Thunder plan to support Johnson’s efforts as well.

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