Martin wishes he'd gotten chance to talk with Lewis Caution stressed by heart patient

July 30, 1993|By Tom Farrey | Tom Farrey,Seattle Times

Robert Martin and Reggie Lewis were on opposite coasts but were two of a kind -- athletes with heart problems who recently had collapsed on a basketball court.

Both were shooting baskets again Tuesday afternoon, Martin in Spokane, Wash., Lewis in Boston.

Today, only one lives.

"Reggie was pretty much in the same situation I was," Martin said, "except [doctors] had already found something wrong with his heart."

Martin, a former standout multi-sport athlete at Spokane's Lewis and Clark High School, never was given any reason for his collapse June 26.

Nonetheless, Martin took a more cautious approach to his heart problem. He agreed to have a defibrillator -- a device that shocks the heart back to normal when it beats too fast -- implanted in his chest. He expects to have the procedure done late within the week.

While Martin waits, he is under medical supervision. Shooting baskets at the Sacred Heart Medical Center facility Wednesday in Spokane, he was hooked up to a heart monitor and watched by a nurse.

Martin, 23, said he wishes he could have talked to Lewis, 27.

"I'd have told him to think twice about what he's doing," Martin said. "And listen [to the first doctors]. You only live once."

On June 26 this year, Martin went into cardiac arrest while his cousin was shooting a free throw during a game in a three-on-three basketball tournament.

Dr. David Oakes, who treats Martin in Spokane, tried to make Lewis aware of the danger earlier this month. He contacted two of the Boston doctors who made original diagnosis and recommended that Lewis retire. Oakes disagreed with Mudge's second opinion.

"Reggie got the second opinion he was looking for," Martin said.

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