June 10, 2008

Incoming frehsman, Sam Maresh, to have open heart surgery

UPDATE: thanks to brilliant commenter (G0EL Pete) HERE is a link to more info on the Aortic Valve and replacement.
Every once in a while something comes along that reminds all of us that football really isn’t all that important.

Many of us have been eagerly anticipating the new look Gopher defense that was to eventually be led by in-state recruit Sam Maresh.The middle linebacker from Champlin was an early commitment to coach Brewster and honestly has been the only significant in-state recruit Brewster has kept from other major programs.

But the Star Tribune is confirming what has been recently rumored, that Maresh has a congenital heart defect requiring surgery. Sam’s father, Bill, e-mailed the Star Tribune…

According to the e-mail, Maresh reported to the U of M on June 2 for a physical, where tests revealed he had a heart murmur. Three days later, after more tests, the family was told that Maresh has a congenital heart defect. Bill Maresh wrote of Sam: "His aortic valve has a serious leak, his ventricle is enlarged and also has an enlarged aortic root."

That is incredibly scary for Maresh and his family. Fortunately this was caught before the condition would have been worsened by 2-a-days in August and hopefully it can be corrected so the young man can live a long and healthy life.

The article does a nice job laying out the significance of Maresh to Brewster and the Gopher program so I won’t go into it any further.

A 4 pm press conference is scheduled for this afternoon to provide further details.

While hoping and praying for more Gopher wins this fall is kind of a big deal to those of us who follow, it all feels pretty meaningless in light of something as serious as this.

It is my prayer for the Maresh family that they can be at peace throughout this process and that Sam can be healed by competent doctors to live a full and healthy life.



From GopherIllustrated message boards (rivals subscription required and I urge you to subscribe as they are excellent at what they do), Bill Maresh recently posted this...

It’s difficult to know where to start when sharing information like this. Julie and I have tried to keep the information from going public, only telling family and a few staff members. At 4:00 p.m. there will be a press conference here at Champlin Park High School with Julie, Sam and myself. We feel it is time to share this information with the people we work with.

On Monday June 2nd, Sam reported to the University to participate for his first work out with the Gophers. The University requires physicals of all their new recruits before allowing them to work out. During the physical Sam was told he had a heart murmur and before they would let him work out they would have to perform further test. Wednesday June 4th, Sam had an EKG and an Echogram. Later that evening, Julie and I received a call telling us they had set up an appointment with a cardiologist and that Julie and I needed to be there. Thursday, as we met with two cardiologists, we were told that Sam had a congenital heart defect, his aortic valve has a serious leak, his ventricle is enlarged and also has an enlarged aortic root. We were told that he would need open heart surgery to repair or replace his valve and also to “fix” his aorta.

Yesterday, we were at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and saw three more doctors, the last being Dr. Schaff, a surgeon who we scheduled the surgery with. The Surgery will be June 26th.

The priority of Sam living a full and long life has been the number one concern through this process. Of course as most of you would guess, Sam asked the doctors, “will I be able to play football again” and I’m sure many others will ask the same question.

So before I answer that question, I want to again state that we, including Sam, have accepted the fact that this surgery was necessary for Sam to have a long and full life. Sam chooses to have the valve repaired if possible and if not to have it replaced with a tissue valve.

With the tissue valve, Sam has a chance of playing again. Of course the surgery will have to be a success, his ventricle will have to return to a normal size and his breastbone will have to mend strong enough to handle the impacts of football. So the answer to the question “will Sam be able to play football again” cannot be answered at the present time. There are many hurdles for Sam to clear in the next year before the doctors will clear him.

Julie and I are so thankful for all the University of Minnesota has done, from detecting the heart murmur, to referring us to possibly the best surgeon in the world, Dr. Schaff. We are most thankful for the prayers we have received through the last week and asked that you continue to pray for Sam through his surgery and his recovery.

Thanks for all your support,

The Maresh Family



John said...

I wonder if there is any precedent in this area? I can't even imagine all the work he'll have to put in after the surgery if he hopes to play football again.

Tom said...

if you remember that Fred Hoiberg made a VERY brief return after getting a pacemaker put in. While the NBA isn't as physically brutal as D1 FB, it is rather taxing on a heart.

G0EL Pete said...

Yikes. Best of luck to Sam and his family.
Also, I was reading an article on Aortic valve replacement, and it sounds like after surgery, there's few restrictions to activity, so it sounds like he should be able to make a comeback. For those needing more information, the info is here.


Anonymous said...

So you want us to subscribe to Rivals, but you'll post their premium info here word for word?

GustieGopher said...

There was a hockey player this fall who had his valve replaced and hope to return that season... I know because I just had the surgery that he had andMaresh is going to have. Cutout and replace the bulging part of the aorta and of course, replace the aortic valve. I went mechanical as I surely don't want to rip my chest open in another 15 years.

My instincts say he'll play again. I've been cleared to do everything I desire (though the never let me play football from birth) and aortic valve "survivors" have climbed the himalayas, ran marathons, and continued to play professional hockey.

For me, by three months after surgery I was already doing band resistance training, and by four months, spinning, running, freeweights (no flys!!) and pretty much everything.

If cleared I'd say his biggest hurdle will be psychological. I'm nine months out from my surgery and I still instinctively and aggressively protect my sternum when friends try and poke and horse around.

Needless to say it's a rough procedure and moreso recovery... especially as unexpected as it appears. I wish Sam and his family the best as they move through these coming months.


snyde043 said...

Obviously the first priority is to get through surgery and rehab OK, but provided that happens, I think he should be OK to play football again if he wants to.

Besides Hoiberg, Ronny Turiaf of the Lakers has had a similar surgery and he's back playing again.

FishingMN said...

Neighbor and good friend across the street had the same exact surgery with the same doctor 8 weeks ago. It was 6 weeks before he could go back to work (he's mid-40's). From all I've heard Sam's in good hands.

Best wishes to the Maresh family.