Florida Gators forward Keyontae Johnson, who was hospitalized after collapsing on the court Dec. 12 during the team’s game against Florida State, has reportedly been diagnosed with acute myocarditis, an inflammation of his heart that is possibly related to contracting coronavirus earlier.
Johnson, 21, was placed in a medically induced coma after being taken to the hospital, but after several days awakened and was speaking to family members and teammates. The University of Florida men’s basketball program announced on Tuesday (Dec. 22), that he was being released from medical care.
But the Gainesville Sun, citing an unnamed source, said while at UF Health in Gainesville, an MRI on Johnson’s heart revealed that he had the potentially life-threatening heart condition. Acute myocarditis was reportedly connected to 5-22 percent of sudden deaths among young athletes, according to the Myocarditis Foundation. One study found the disease in 15 percent of college athletes who tested positive for coronavirus.
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No one treating Johnson, however, has said he was at any risk of death. He and several of his teammates were diagnosed with coronavirus in November, according to USA Today.
SEC protocols require players to undergo a series of medical tests that can reveal cardiac issues in order to qualify to play. Gators’ team physician Dr. Jay Clugston told local station WJCB in August he has noticed more issues from COVID than he has seen before.
“There does seem to be more cases or cardiac effects from this virus than maybe we have seen from others, although, we are looking a lot more closely than we have in the past,” Clugston told the station. “I think all of us are cautious about it.”
Johnson, who is the SEC’s preseason player of the year will reportedly be out for at least three months and is expected to miss the rest of the 2020-21 season. In a statement, Johnson’s family gave an update of his progress.
“We continue to be amazed at the pace of his recovery,” read the statement. “Along with so many well wishes and prayers, we've understandably gotten questions about the cause and extent of Keyontae’s illness. As much as everyone involved wants firm answers, the process to draw definitive conclusions continues, and we ask for patience as the medical professionals continue their work.
“We are committed to sharing not only updates on Keyontae but also any information we think could help others. When we have that, we will share it. Until then, we continue to be grateful for the care and support Keyontae is receiving.”