“I miss his presence. I miss his caring spirit around the house. Life will forever be different.”
Miami Beach Police Officer Shantell Mitchell describes the reality she and her husband, Miami Beach Police Detective Christopher Mitchell now face. A life without their son. However, the future is driven by a clear purpose: preventing other families from experiencing similar loss. That’s the goal of the Dwayne Have A Heart Foundation.
In March, 2016 the South Florida couple said goodbye to nineteen year old Dwayne Christopher Mitchell. His death, say doctors, due to severe complications as a result of a rare congenital heart disease known as Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW). A seemingly healthy athlete, Dwayne showed no signs of having a heart ailment. But, doctors say WPW can be detected with a 12-lead electrocardiogram or EKG screening.
“We want Dwayne’s legacy to be that God used him to save other kids,” says Detective Christopher Mitchell. “His story will lend support to other families and prevent them from experiencing the possible tragic outcome we experienced.”
In May, 2015 just weeks shy of graduating from Braddock High School, Dwayne Mitchell suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Unresponsive for some time, Dwayne’s brother revived him. Doctors were successful in saving Dwayne’s life. However, severe brain damage left Dwayne in an almost vegetative state. Months of intense specialized therapy and Dwayne showed small signs of improvement. But it wasn’t enough. Dwayne passed away March 11, 2016.
Initially the Dwayne Have A Heart Foundation was designed to assist with medical expenses and life-support services for Dwayne. Now there is a renewed mission: to raise awareness of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome and to make EKG screenings a mandatory health requirement for entry into the public school system. The Foundation is seeking support and partnerships from the educational and healthcare fields to make EKG testing the norm and to educate parents about Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.
“It’s back-to-school season; the perfect time for parents to have their children tested,” explains Detective Mitchell. “If Dwayne’s story can help save one kid’s life then the foundation was not created in vain.”
For more information on Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome and to learn how to become a supporting partner visit www.dwaynehaveaheart.foundation