UK football player urges getting CPR certified, reflects on open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Kentucky, according to the American Heart Association.

The association also says of the more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that happen across the country each year, 70-percent happen at home.

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UK football player Kenneth Horsey has experienced that kind of scare.

Kentuckians might remember Horsey made national headlines a few years ago for returning to football after undergoing open-heart surgery, and now, he’s using his story to encourage others to get CPR certified.

“As a student-athlete, it’s not very common that we like to talk about when we’re in pain and when we’re going through something,” Horsey said,

But, Horsey said felt he needed to share the pain he experienced to let others know they’re not alone.

“I was eating dinner with my family and I just started experiencing a pain in my side,” Horsey said.

That pain grew more severe, and Horsey was in and out of consciousness.

Doctors later found out he had a dangerous infection on a heart valve caused by bacteria.

During surgery, the doctors were able to remove the growth completely – causing no damage in the process.

“There were mixed feelings between the doctors on whether I should play again,” Horsey said.

But, with support from UK, Horsey slowly regained his strength. A few months after his surgery, the junior offensive guard took the field at UK.

Though he didn’t receive CPR, he learned the importance of the life-saving measure and he wants everyone else to learn about it too.

“You never know when it’s going to be you,” Horsey said. “You never know when you’re going to need these tools. Hopefully, you never do, but this is definitely just an important skill to have.”

Director of UK’s Cardiac Rehab, Jacob Stone, trained UK’s football team on CPR.

Stone says first you want to call the police, then, using the palm of your hand, press hard and fast in the center of the chest.

Stone says you can use the beat of “Baby Shark” or “Staying Alive” as a reference.

“When we work with these patients after their event, they’re very grateful that they’re still around, but it’s not just them, it’s their families that are very grateful that somebody out there knew this skill,” Stone said.