We spend our days living like aliens (Case of the body snatchers) in flesh and bone. Our brains function as one organism, and our bodies are the hosts that keep us (Spirit and soul) protected and invulnerable. Some may live in the shell (body) recklessly while abusing every parameter of the vessel. Others are born into these coverings with minor or major defections. Sometimes these imperfections present itself a little later in life, only resulting in a more sever fatality. This may sound like a joke, or perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but it’s not considered suicide if you just jump off a bridge and start a new life when you find out that the old one is flawed, right? I know, my drawn out analogy may be a little ghastly, but it arrives us at this point in the conversation. Omar Carter… It was quite recently that we attended the “Walk with a Doctor” event held at Freedom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. We met the strikingly charming young man while treading the beat with other patrons in support of the “Heart Walk”. Many people stopped in awe, wanting to shake Omar’s hand. They marveled at him, and wanted to take pictures with this extraordinary survivor. Well, being the groupie that I am of this medical miracle, I had to see for myself. I needed to meet the man that survived death, and was able to share his story to other heart patients, and believers of God’s mercy like myself.
Some call this valiant young man a miracle, and others really cannot fathom what to think of his quandary with death, other than, to chant “Nobody but God!” His heart stopped in the middle of a college basketball game at the Charlotte Grady Cole Center, leaving him lifeless on the court for 12 whole minutes. Omar not only survived but was able to walk away without any repercussions from this brief casualty other than to share his odyssey.
They say that life sure comes at you like a fastball. Well, in his case, they were right. Omar learned early on in life that he suffered from a rare condition called “athletes heart” (enlarged heart). This is when the heart is too large for its body. “I was probably 15 years-old or 16-years-old when I first found out in junior high school. I was devastated because I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to be able to play basketball.” Omar speaks passionately about his initial diagnosis. “First of all, I wasn’t doing pushups. I was laying down one day, and of course, this was during the time that I was playing ball a lot. I started having chest pains. They were just regular chest pains. You know you can sit there sometimes and it could be nothing,” says Omar calmly while reeling off the chain of events. “I wanted to see what was going on, so I went to a specialist. I found out that my heart was too big for my body.” Omar continued to speak even after the waiter had brought our order of food. “I did the echo’s and the Ultrasound, I even went to Boston to see the world’s best doctors, son. They all agreed that I was fine, and that they see this type of thing happen all of the time. I did all of the stress test, and everything. I had history of high blood pressure, so that’s what they thought it was. It was 9-years ago when I had my first onset; I didn’t have chest pains the whole time. You know, it could be that your arm is aching, and you think that it’s a muscle pain. It wasn’t really anything alarming.
When I look at it now, I think the Lord was warning me to go check it out.” Omar didn’t have a family history, and he didn’t require a heart transplant for his incident. His only obligation to this bizarre finding was frequenting his routine visits to the doctor’s office to monitor his care. Nothing raised an eyebrow about his condition. There was no indication that the 25-year –old basketball pro, would suddenly die from his enlarged heart. It was July 2013, and Omar had just come back to Charlotte from playing professional basketball in Brazil. “The days leading up to my collapse, I was tired before it happened. But, I was always fatigued, even in college. You know college athletes are just a vigorous as a professional. We do just as much as the professionals do. I’m talking about early mornings are nonstop. So I felt that it was a good thing when I was tired because I got all of my workouts in. My friend said that I was looking at him before it happened and zoned completely out. He looked at me and exclaimed, “What?” because I was out of it. My heart just stopped. I didn’t feel anything and I didn’t remember anything after it happened. I just hit the floor. The woman that saved my life was a nurse, and she had not been to a game in two years. She decided 30-minutes before the game that she would come.
Of course, she didn’t live in Charlotte either. She lived in Gastonia. When I hit the floor, she was in the bathroom. She saw the commotion, but didn’t know what was going on, she said that she thought someone bumped their head and passed out. She had came down, and people told her not come through. She said, “No! I know what I’m doing.” She said that she felt my pulse and it was very slow. She said that she lost me. The ambulance didn’t come until 10 or 11 minutes later. On the machine, it said I had a pulse, but electronically, I didn’t have a pulse. I’m glad that she didn’t stop doing CPR because that is a long time to sit and administer CPR. There was another person there and I cannot remember his name. He helped save me, although he wasn’t mentioned. He worked on the AED machine, and he was doing the compressions. So, there were two people that did all of that work to save my life”. In route to the hospital by ambulance, listed as a “code cool patient” with paramedics working feverishly on the young man;
Omar would soon wake up in a room filled with loving family and friends standing around him, as well as a new perspective on life. “My arm was still in the air, when I hit the floor.
My belief is that it happened for a reason, and I believe that God was holding my hand because it wasn’t my time. It changed my life, and it changed all of my friend’s lives,” says Omar compassionately. “I can never play basketball again, and I am currently pursuing other options in the political affairs. “To be honest, I’m afraid to do anything now that requires extreme exertion. What you see now, this is what I do.” Omar speaks politely with a smile while sitting at the table. I gave him a once over as we continued to chat and eat. The dramatic changes in his life were evident. He was already part of the republican political party while growing up. Charlottes Mayor, Pat McCrory was a mentor to him and his twin brother. With basketball set aside now, Omar will learn to adjust further in his new professional duties as a bureaucrat. This is just the beginning stages for the young executive that sat before me with an engaging smile.
Could he go all the way to the White House? From B-Ball, to the boardroom, Omar’s studious and proficient manor showed off a new refined and well-polished young man. He wore a royal blue, button-up shirt neatly tucked into a pair of black slacks. His hard bottom shoes thudded against the floor while we sat and talked. He was very knowledgeable of politics, and he didn’t mind sharing his wisdom with me. Talk about divine change… No, I guess that it wasn’t his time. Did Omar cheat death? Naaaaaah! He is right where he is supposed to be doing what he needs to do. In the mean time, our thoughts and prayers are with him.