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Heart 'scare' for Thomson High School baseball player turns out alright

Jake Unokur knew something was wrong. He just didn't know what it was when he recently began experiencing chest pains while practicing baseball at Thomson High School.

At the time, the 18-year-old starting outfielder, who has played some reserve shortstop this season, said, "My heart just started racing real fast."

Immediately, he informed THS Assistant Coach Aaron Hall about his health issue with the coach telling him to take a break. Unokur said he continued to experience "discomfort."

Unokur explained that he had been involved in lifting more in his weight class and thought that might be the problem at first. When the problem persisted, his mother, Jean Landrum, of Thomson, made an appointment for him to see a local doctor. That doctor, according to Mrs. Landrum, thought his problem might be a serious heart-related condition that would require him seeing a cardiologist and even the chance of open-heart surgery for a possible pace-maker to regulate his heart.

"It was a big scare when I heard the doctor tell us that," Mrs. Landrum told The McDuffie Mirror. "I had just lost my mother (Irene Dent) a couple of weeks before that and just didn't know how I was going to handle anything else on my plate."

The senior baseball star also was told it might be two weeks or more before they could get an appointment to see a cardiologist. In the meantime, playing baseball, a sport Unokur not only excels in, but loves, he could do nothing except attend practices and a game.

He ended up missing a couple of practices and a game against the Jefferson County High Warriors.

He could have missed a lot more playing time had it not been for THS Baseball Head Coach Terry Holder intervening.

As it turned out, Coach Holder, who has undergone open-heart surgery in the past, has a former student, Dr. Kellie Vaughn Lane, who is his cardiologist in Augusta. He made a telephone call to her to see if she could work Unokur into her schedule, as quickly as possible.

"It was so nice of Kellie to work him in as quickly as she did," Coach Holder said. "She's my doctor and I knew that Jake would be in good hands with her. Kellie is a great person and she loves sports, especially baseball. I can't say enough about her doing this for me and for Jake."

Unokur was seen by Dr. Lane at her Augusta office last Thursday and was diagnosed with having a strained muscle, instead of a heart problem.

"I'm thankful to God that it was a strained muscle and not a problem with my heart," Unokur said.

His mother agreed, saying, "I feel so blessed that there's nothing seriously wrong with my son, because for two days, we were thinking the worse."

She said she'd like to publicly thank Coach Holder, as well as Assistant Coaches Hall, Jason Osborn and Wes Harrell for their support, along with those in the community who prayed for her son to get a good report from the cardiologist.

"I appreciate so much the thoughtfulness of so many people and their prayers for my son," Mrs. Landrum said.

Web posted on Thursday, April 02, 2009

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