‘It’s a legacy’: Boyd family hopes hockey player’s mural raises awareness of rare heart diseases

Jordan Boyd died after collapsing on the ice at training camp for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Facebook/Acadie-Bathurst Titan

The face of 16-year-old Jordan Boyd in his hockey uniform stood large in the room at Halifax Infirmary hospital.

His mom and dad, Stephen and Debbie Boyd, were to see his face on the mural for the first time on Thursday, which was created in the hopes it would inspire other families facing inherited heart disease in Atlantic Canada.

“It’s a legacy for Jordan, and anybody who lost a child would understand how much it means to have him remembered,” said Stephen as he tried to fight back tears.

Stephen Boyd looking at the mural which was unveiled at Halifax Infirmary. Global News

Jordan Boyd lost his life suddenly in August 2013 while attending training camp for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, when he collapsed on the ice.

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His condition wasn’t diagnosed until after his death, when it was determined he had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a rare inherited heart disease.

“I hope this will bring awareness, because you just don’t know,” Debbie said.

“Jordan was 16, he was young, he never had any issues and the first sign was the last sign.”

Over the past six years, the Boyd family has hosted an annual hockey tournament organized in memory of the teen from Bedford, N.S., raising more than $800,000 for research into inherited heart diseases.

READ MORE: Sudden cardiac events far more common in young people, experts say

The money raised so far has helped improve player safety protocols in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League by making it mandatory that there be three staff members trained in CPR and AED.

In addition, the funding has helped create a full-time research nurse position for the QEII’s Inherited Heart Disease Clinic, which, according to the hospital, “is already uncovering important breakthroughs.”

“It’s massive just how much it benefits the research. [The Boyds] have paid a lot for research and the people that do the research here in Halifax,” said Dr. Martin Gardner, director of the Inherited Heart Disease Clinic at the Halifax infirmary.
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Gardner said the clinic now uses new tools to detect inherited heart disease disorders.

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“One of the important things is that when we identify somebody in a family we know, we have to see all members of the family and we have new investigations like the MRI and ECG and these need to be used more and more.”

He also noted the importance of having access to automatic external defibrillators.

“We know, particularly from the Boyd family, that making sure that you know where automatic defibrillators are when you go to public spaces and to know how to use them [is important],” said Gardner.
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READ MORE: Jordan Boyd Celebrity Hockey Challenge raises $700,000 for inherited heart disease research

“We see more and more people now saved by AED,” he added.

The mural room at the Halifax Infirmary will serve as a place for people with inherited heart disease, and their families, to be examined.

Stephen Boyd hopes that the people who enter the room would see Jordan and “know he was the kind of guy who was always kind and gracious.”

“I do know that [Jordan] would be very grateful and humbled by it,” Stephen said.

— with files from The Canadian Press

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