Dr. David Chao: “What we know now is it was a confirmed cardiac arrest on Monday morning. The great news is that the family has said that he is out of the ICU which means he’s no longer incubated with any breathing tube if he ever was, and he’s making great progress. Not to compare directly to Damar Hamlin, but remember, he had a breathing tube for three days or more, was in the ICU for at least four days, was in the hospital for nine days. Bronny is on a much quicker path and let’s hope he stays on that path.”
Jim Rome: “Does this mean that he’s in the clear?”
Dr. Chao: “The first few moments are the most important as we saw with Damar Hamlin, and so far, what sketchy news there is is good, and I’m not hear to try and speculate. The good news is that this didn’t happen while he was practicing in the park outside, or at a high school gym. This happened at Galen Center at the campus of USC, which means that it was likely supervised with athletic trainers and/or other people, so quick action. Certainly you don’t have NFL sideline, 25 people there, medical professionals, but at least there was the one who could go into quick action, and that hopefully helped Bronny quite a bit. Whether an AED was involved was speculative at this point right now. Interestingly enough, last year in July there was a freshman center for USC that had a heart issue and collapsed, and was taken to the hospital, had a cardiac arrest. I’m not saying the two situations are exactly similar, but he returned to play basketball in January of this year—about six months later.”
Rome: “How unusual is an episode like this for somebody that age?’
Dr. Chao: “The number can be as high as 1 in 50,000 and predilection is for young, male, bigger/taller athletes, and epidemiologically it’s more common in Black males. Not all high schools have the ability to do cardiac screenings, certainly not ECHO, certainly not always EKGs. I don’t know if he’s had a full-screening physical for USC yet, but this is what happens at the NFL combines, NBA combines, etc., when it’s a ‘spare no expense’, so it is a phenomenon that is out there. There is several different potential causes for it, but if you think about it, 1 in 50,000 young male athlete basketball players, that’s not a small number.”
Rome: “What does this mean to his career overall?”
Dr. Chao: “I’m very hopeful that the option to return to play will be open to him, but that really depends on ‘why’ it happened. The number one reason: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, number two reason would be some sort of anomalous coronary artery, number three reason: electrical anomaly conduction... Not trying to be all medical but it really depends on why it happened. But fingers crossed, things are looking good so far and we can just hang our hat on that.”
Listen to Dr. David Chao, an orthopedic surgeon and former NFL doctor for the San Diego Chargers, join The Jim Rome Show to discuss news of LeBron James’ son Bronny’s cardiac arrest during a USC basketball practice on Monday.
Check out the segment above as Chao speculates on the current situation for the incoming freshman, and give his outlook on Bronny’s immediate and long-term future in the sport of basketball.