PORTLAND - Within a matter of months, Xavier Coleman experienced extreme highs and lows. In the winter it was a basketball state championship but by early summer, he learned his playing days might be over.
(A warning if you watch the video included in this story - there's an image of his surgery that some might find disturbing.)
Coming out of surgery with a win was Coleman's game plan when he traveled to Stanford Medical Center for heart surgery.
"Going into the surgery I kind of attacked it as a basketball game," he said. "I got my headphones on - my basketball clothes and I'm getting pumped up, I'm ready for this, I'm going to attack this."
"One day, I was completely fine. The next day, they say you might be done with sports for your life," he recalled.
Doctors detected his heart defect two years ago, but said corrective surgery wouldn't be necessary until his 30s or 40s.
He gave up football but continued with basketball and track.
"He used to say things like 'mom if I die doing or something I love then it's OK,' that's how much he loved his athletics," his mother explained.
In June, just months after capturing a state championship he learned the surgery couldn't wait - doctors would either repair a heart valve or replace it.
"I know in my heart he would be very disappointed if it was a replacement because he would have to stop all sports and he's been a three sport athlete since the third grade," his mom said.
Nine hours of surgery two weeks ago gave Xavier the win he wanted - doctors used a tube made of Dacron to repair his heart valve and get the blood flowing at full force again.
"I was like half asleep and I asked, 'Did you repair it?' and doctor Miller said 'Yes.' Then when I fully came to, it was a really good feeling," Coleman recalled.
A table full of good wishes for the recovering patient reflected his popularity with friends and teammates who wondered just how this active athlete was going to be able recover for three months.
"All of my friends have been saying 'Thank God the Olympics are on so when you're home you can't go out' and that's pretty much what I've been doing the past two weeks," he said.
Coleman watches the Olympics while counting the days until October 12th when he can return to the court for his senior season and pursue another state championship.
"It's definitely changed me, I'm really grateful and thankful for what I have in my life right now," he said.
Here are details about a fundraiser has been planned for Xavier Coleman:
- Harvey’s Comedy Club
- Saturday August 11th
- 5 – 6:30 pm
- Proceeds to offset medical costs
He also recommends getting screened to detect cardiac problems when you're young. The PlaySmartGetScreened website explains the process.