LACONIA — When Kyle Chiasson signed his letter of intent to play lacrosse at Franklin Pierce College next year, he, his family and his close friends knew that his road to the university was one fraught with injury, pain, determination and heartache — literally.
The Laconia High School senior was born with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome — or, with an extra electrical pathway or valve between the top two heart chambers and the lower two heart chambers. The syndrome can cause the heart to beat too fast, meaning not enough oxygenated blood can get into his bloodstream.
He said his mother and sister have SVT — or supraventricular tachycardia, more commonly known as atrial fibrillation or "a-fib." He said they tested him for "a-fib" and found Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome instead.
Although he had never had an episode of rapid heartbeats, three years ago, when he was 15, Kyle went to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon and underwent an 11-hour catheter ablation or operation to remove or terminate the electrical impulse or value that could cause an episode.
"My mom was frightened but I didn't understand it or know what it all really meant," he said.
"It was unsuccessful but the doctor was able to find where the problem was," said Kyle. He added that he had already been under anesthesia for 11 hours so the decision was made not to continue.
Undeterred, Kyle followed his older brother into lacrosse, first playing with him and then joining the Sachems team, becoming a starting attack forward.
Kyle also loved playing football and was a starting wide receiver for the varsity team. Until he got hit hard late in his junior year and went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
He said he had finished running his pass pattern and started his turn up the field toward the goal when he got hit high by an opposing player.
"My body went one way. My leg went another," he said. "It was scary."
Dr. Alexander Hennig of Orthopedic Professional Association operated on him on Nov. 18, 2014, after an MRI showed he had partially torn his ACL.
Hennig said yesterday he was evaluated by Dr. John Grobman on the field and taken to the hospital for an X-ray. The MRI came two days later and showed the tear.
Hennig said Kyle "rehabilitated very well" and did everything that was asked of him. With the help of physical therapist Joshua Brooks of Granite State Physical Therapy, Kyle was running within three months.
Prohibited from all contact sports, he played non-contact lacrosse for the next three months and returned to the field competitively, playing in the last six games of his junior year.
Brooks said Kyle was eager to get back to playing sports at a highly competitive level — something he rarely sees young athletes accomplish. Both Brooks and Kyle said the work was difficult but Brooks said Kyle was determined to play at a highly competitive level and so he gave him the workouts he needed to do.
"He worked very hard and was diligent in performing," said Brooks, noting that lacrosse and football are both very tough physical sports to play.
Kyle said he did Brooks's exercises twice weekly for six months at the physical therapy office and twice weekly on his own. Not only did he return to play the last six games of lacrosse in his junior year, he went on to play for this year's football team. Over the summer, he played lacrosse for an elite team called the Tomahawks.
But over the winter of his junior year, Kyle had his first accelerated heartbeat episode. He sought out medical care and in February he went to Children's Hospital in Boston and after a second 3 1/2 hour catheterizing surgery, the doctor closed off the excess valve in his heart.
"Because of the first surgery, Kyle said the Boston doctor knew about where to look for the problem and fixed it quickly. Good to go, Kyle returned to working out so he could play with the Tomahawks over the summer.
Kyle said he waited to see if he was going to get recruited to play for college, but this past summer took it upon himself to make player tapes and send them to lacrosse Coach Rich Senatore at Franklin Pierce. He said the coach came to see him play and the two became friends and later recruited him.
Kyle said he plans on studying criminal justice and hopes to become a police officer. He said he's worked on a internship from New Hampshire Technical Institute with School Resource Officer Steve Orton and is hoping to work over the summer as a Marine Patrol intern.
Cutline: (Kyle and Hennig) Dr. Alexander Hennig looks over the knee of recently recruited Franklin Pierce College lacrosse player Kyle Chiasson of Laconia. Laconia Daily Sun Photo – Gail Ober
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