Defibrillator could allow Lewis back Celtics star to have device implanted

May 08, 1993|By Judy Foreman and Jackie MacMullan | Judy Foreman and Jackie MacMullan,The Boston Globe

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics captain Reggie Lewis is expected to undergo surgery, possibly this weekend, to have an implantable defibrillating device placed under the muscles of his abdomen, raising the possibility that he may play basketball again, The Boston Globe learned last night.

Until last night, medical sources generally had assumed that Lewis would not play basketball again because of the serious heart arrhythmia that caused him to collapse and nearly lose consciousness during a playoff game April 29.

But implantation of the defibrillator, which can quickly restore an erratic heart rhythm to normal, "raises the hope that he can play again," said one source close to the case. "If there is any hope of playing, it would be with this device."

Lewis, a Dunbar graduate, would be the first pro basketball player with a heart arrhythmia to resume his career using an implanted defibrillator. Several players have continued to play despite arrhythmias, by using drugs to control erratic heart rhythms.

Another source familiar with Lewis' case, however, cautioned that it "would be crazy" for Lewis to jeopardize his life by playing with an implanted defibrillator.

If Lewis plays again, in addition to the internal defibrillator, the ideal scenario would be to also have a larger, external defibrillator machine at courtside during all games and practices as a "fail-safe," the first source said.

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