MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Vikings’ linebacker Cameron Smith will miss the 2020 NFL season, and he’s never been so grateful to receive bad news.
Smith, 23, announced Saturday via Instagram that follow-up tests performed after his recent positive COVID-19 test revealed a congenital heart condition that will require open-heart surgery.
“Earlier this week I found out I need open heart surgery to fix a bicuspid aortic valve that I was born with,” Smith wrote. “Although this will unfortunately end my 2020 season, it is really a blessing that we found this as my heart is severely enlarged and wouldn’t have lasted much longer.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, Smith’s condition is one of the most common congenital heart defects. The malformation means Smith’s aortic valve has only two small parts, called leaflets, instead of the standard three, and those leaflets can be stiffer, leading ultimately to the valve struggling to open when the heart squeezes. Left untreated, the left side of the heart is forced to work harder, damaging the entire muscle, Today reported.
Smith, a fifth-round pick in 2019, told ESPN that the surgery will allow him to continue playing football once fully recovered and that he “didn’t think twice about going with that one.”
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the majority of people with the birth defect do not discover the condition until around middle age when they display symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain and lightheadedness, Today reported.
Smith, a four-year starter at the University of Southern California, played in five games for the Vikings – racking up eight tackles – in his rookie season, ESPN reported.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways, but I could really feel him on this one!” Smith wrote in his post.
“By no means am I ready to be done playing football, there is still so much more I want to accomplish on the field. I’m going to attack this like everything else I have in life. Already looking forward to the comeback!”
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