Muir Ortho’s Student Athlete Screening Caught Gabriel’s Sudden Death Syndrome

Mom says last year’s Pass To Play event, “saved my son’s life.” Pre-participation sports physicals, cardiac screenings and concussion assessments set for July 27, 2019.


WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (July 9, 2019) – Muir Orthopaedic Specialists (MOS) will host its seventh annual Pass To Play sports physical event Saturday, July 27. This event is possible thanks to the orthopedists and MOS’ partners with American Medical Response (AMR) donating their services to detect problems and prevent injuries. Last year more than 200 student athletes came out to be medically cleared for the season, and the MOS sports medicine specialists identified multiple cardiac cases, including Gabriel’s.

“It’s one of those things where I feel that this event saved my son’s life,” said Gabriel’s mother Dara Merritt. “I mean, there’s nothing like having a doctor tell you that your son is at the highest risk for sudden death syndrome.”

Pass To Play is in its seventh year of providing student athletes with mandated pre-participation physicals and medical clearance. The event is open to high school and college athletes and costs $30, with all fees going back to the students’ school athletics programs. So far, MOS’ Pass To Play has donated $26,000 to East Bay Area schools.

The event gives hundreds of students their pass to play school sports. And when the orthopedists do spot participation problems, they are usually temporary, minor issues.

But for Dara and Gabriel, what the MOS docs found last year was shocking. And they are sharing their story to help other student athletes and parents know about what could have happened if they had not come to last year’s Pass To Play and opted-in for the free cardiac screening.

“You hear those cases where kids are just playing football and drop dead on the field or on the basketball court,” said Dara Merritt. “And my son could have been one of those kids, had we not had this testing done and discovered his heart condition.”

Over the years that MOS has been holding Pass To Play, the orthopedic specialists and staff members, many of whom are active in area school athletic programs as physicians and trainers, have seen how this event helps the community. They are excited to keep Pass To Play going.

“Screening of young athletes gives us the best possible assurance that they are fit to participate in their sport of choice,” said Dr. Semon Bader. “It further gives us the opportunity to identify and address areas that need further evaluation or treatment, whether it be a medical condition or an injury.”

The Pass To Play event is on July 27, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., at the Muir Orthopaedic Specialists’ Walnut Creek location at 2625 Shadelands Drive.

For more information and to complete the required pre-registration, please visit: MuirOrtho.com/Pass-to-Play.

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Media note

Dara, Gabriel and an MOS doctor will be available for interviews the week of July 22. Please reach out to the media contact to set up a time.

Media contact

Jessica Cordova, Multimedia Public Relations Manager

303-382-2999 (desk) | 303-250-9976 (cell) | [email protected]

About Muir Orthopaedic Specialists

A regionally recognized orthopedic practice located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Muir Orthopaedic Specialists is comprised of an expert team of physicians and providers with a variety of specialty focuses. Using state-of-the-art techniques in orthopedic medicine, Muir Orthopaedic Specialists restores mobility in musculoskeletal injuries, treating the foot, ankle, knee, hip, spine, shoulder, elbow and hand. Muir Orthopaedic Specialists facilities are located east of San Francisco in Walnut Creek (two locations), Brentwood, San Ramon and Concord. For more information, please visit muirortho.com.