November 22, 2023
Overland Park Regional Medical Center hosts young college athlete giving thanks to doctor who saved his life, making playing college soccer possible
18-year-old Parker Million has always been known to play soccer at the top of his team. Not only a dynamic player on the field, but off the field his compassion for others, determination and gentle spirit inspire all who know him.
Life changed dramatically for Parker in November 2022 following an important soccer event in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he was hopeful to earn a spot on the soccer team of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS), to join older brother Jackson, who also plays for the university. Parker thought he pulled the groin in his left leg. He played through the pain and played so well that he was the only player at the camp offered a full scholarship.
Following the injury, Parker spent months in rehabilitation with hopes of returning fully to playing soccer without pain. His older sister Payton played a key role in his recovery often helping her younger brother. However, after just one game in March, he went down in pain again after reaching for the soccer ball. With the pain persisting in May, Parker had an MRI which showed a torn labrum. He underwent surgery, which was successful.
Following his first post-surgical physical therapy session, Parker felt something was off as they were leaving. “Dad, I just don’t feel good,” he told his father.
Parker then collapsed, going ghost-white. Not breathing.
“Parker showed signs of convulsing, and as his therapist moved him to the floor, I immediately called 9-1-1,” said Rob Million.
The young athlete was rushed to Overland Park Regional Medical Center and following a thorough examination, Krishna Pothineni, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist at Kansas City Heart and Rhythm Institute of HCA Midwest Health diagnosed him with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome.
WPW is a rare heart condition, often present at birth (congenital heart defect) where an extra signaling pathway between the heart's upper and lower chambers ultimately causes a fast heartbeat (tachycardia). The episodes of fast heartbeats seen in WPW syndrome usually aren't life-threatening, but serious heart problems can occur, especially in athletes.
Dr. Pothineni and the team of specialized cardiology clinicians performed a shock to Million’s heart (cardioversion) followed by an ablation procedure to stop the irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). After two days in the hospital, Parker was discharged home, to immediately pack his bags and follow his dream: joining his brother, Jackson at UCCS. While the soccer team is competing in post-season tournaments, Parker continues rehabilitation with the university’s athletic training team, hoping to play in Spring 2024.
“Parker is a very kind, resilient and highly motivated young man,” says Dr. Pothineni. “It was such a pleasure to work with him and his family. The reality is ---There are very few things in medicine we can cure. However, in my field of cardiac electrophysiology, we can cure, we do cure. This procedure was a “one-time fix” to the heart, allowing him the opportunity to fulfil his dream of playing college soccer.”
“My advice to parents and coaches: All athletes should undergo full physical and heart evaluation if they are playing competitive sports. Had we done so, this could have been caught early. I’ve coached my entire life. We thought we did everything right. Well, here we are. And we’re on a MISSION to bring awareness of sports physicals and heart health in athletes.”
“This young kid is a fighter — a giver, just a genuine good kid,” said Rob Million. “His perseverance, along with our “new family” at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, has helped him be successful in his recovery. I mean, who has two surgeries in three days, goes home to pack for college and moves into their dorm 10 hours away? THIS 18-year-old!”
Parker is finishing his first semester at UCCS while rehabilitating. He is thrilled to play alongside Jackson in the future– a dream the brothers have shared since they were young.