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When young and healthy doesn’t matter

Eduardo Rodríguez should be in his peak years with the Boston Red Sox. Instead their promising young starter is sidelined thanks to a heart condition brought upon by catching the coronavirus.

Kansas City Royals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Eduardo Rodríguez used the last two seasons to become a major cog in the Boston Red Sox’s starting rotation. The plan was for 2020 to continue much the same for the 27-year-old native of Valencia, Venezuela. Instead, Rodríguez finds himself sidelined for the foreseeable future thanks to complications from a virus that no one expected. The young and healthy Rodríguez contracted the coronavirus and developed myocarditis as a result. Now, not only is it likely his 2020 is gone but the rest of his career may be altered thanks to his new heart condition.

Myocarditis is relatively common and it is a disease that people live with. The nuts and bolts of the disease are that inflammation forms in and around the heart. This causes an irregular heartbeat, lingering shortness of breath, and various cardiac arrhythmias. Left untreated Myocarditis is a deadly disease. It can be treated, but that doesn’t mean the victim of this particular disease will ever be the same. A lifetime of medications can await the person diagnosed with this particular heart disease. There’s even the possibility that they may find themselves fitted for a Ventricular Assist Device and placed on the heart transplant list.

The above is the most serious of complications and hopefully, Rodríguez finds himself as one of the many who recover from myocarditis either on their own or through a course of short term medications. Unfortunately, the reality is that viral acquired myocarditis often leads to the worst possible outcomes. More than that, coronavirus-induced myocarditis study is still in its infancy and thus not much has been extrapolated about how that will affect that particular victim of the disease. I’m not a doctor, making a long term prognosis for someone afflicted with Coronavirus induced Myocarditis is well beyond my scope as a Paramedic. Still, the literature makes it clear that we don’t know enough about the disease pathway of viral myocarditis caused by coronavirus to make any assumptions one way or the other.

To put it in perspective, I’ll reiterate that we are talking about a healthy 27-year-old elite athlete. Rodríguez had world class health and fitness options at his disposal before he contracted coronavirus, and he has had world class treatment following his diagnosis. Yet this young and healthy athlete with all kinds of world-class help finds his career in peril thanks to coronavirus. This is the side of COVID-19 that most people don’t seem to understand or want to understand. Arguments about death rates are common, but there’s not much discussion of the possible long term effects of contracting coronavirus.

Eduardo Rodríguez has survived his bout with coronavirus. He should be continuing his career as an elite athlete. He may not be able to because of the lasting effects of the virus. As Major League Baseball continues to try and play amid a pandemic and team-wide outbreaks of the virus it’s important to keep in mind that the shock doctrine of young people not having to worry about the virus isn’t true. Every one of these players has the potential to see their careers sidetracked by this disease. And for what? So that the owners can make some more money and fans can think things are somehow closer to normal than they were when MLB was shut down? Let Eduardo Rodríguez’s damaged heart be all the evidence you need that it’s not safe for players to be competing right now. To prevent more Eduardo Rodríguez’s Rob Manfred and the owners need to end this sham of a season right now.