Aug 29, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Minnesota Vikings inside linebacker Cameron Smith (59) looks on against the Buffalo Bills during the fourth quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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Vikings’ Smith thankful heart issue was detected

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith was stunned to learn earlier this month that he needs open-heart surgery.

Making it odder is the discovery came during a follow-up COVID-19 test, with the first one Smith took possibly being a false positive.

“I was very shocked. The news is alarming,” Smith told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “To hear open-heart surgery, my head instantly started rushing. It was overwhelming.”

And when the shock wore off, Smith had different feelings, thankfulness being the biggest one.

“It did save my life,” the 23-year-old said. “It’s a blessing in disguise.”

Smith is slated to undergo the open-heart procedure on Aug. 24 in Philadelphia.

What doctors discovered through cardiac tests and an MRI exam is that Smith has a severely enlarged heart. They told him he has had a bicuspid aortic valve defect since birth.

Failing to get such a condition treated can lead to heart failure. Some of the symptoms — shortness of breath, lack of oxygen, fatigue — were highly familiar to Smith.

That led Smith to “realize that normal to me isn’t exactly normal.”

So while Smith will spend this season on the non-football illness list, he understands everything will be better when the 2021 campaign rolls around.

“I’ll be fixed,” Smith said. “I’ll be better, and I’ll be in a more healthy state than I have been for the last 23 years. I am driven and ready to return next year.”

Smith recorded eight tackles in five games while playing mostly on special teams last season. He was selected by Minnesota in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft out of the University of Southern California.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
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