SEATTLE -- Twenty months after her teammates helped save her life when her heart stopped, Kayla Burt said Tuesday she plans to again play basketball for Washington in the 2004-05 season.
"I have a dream to compete again here at the University of
Washington and it's now more than just a game to me," Burt said
during a news conference.
She was the starting sophomore guard for the Huskies in 2002 and averaging 8 points a game when she fell ill. Burt went into cardiac arrest while watching television on New Year's Eve 2002. Her teammates performed CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until paramedics arrived.
She was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, an inherited
abnormality that causes irregularities in heartbeat rhythm, and had
a defibrillator implanted into her chest. But further tests over
the next several months indicated Burt most likely did not have
Long QT Syndrome and no genetic abnormality has ever been found.
Doctors now believe she most likely suffered an idiopathic
ventricular fibrillation, where the cause of her cardiac arrest is
In January, Burt, who worked as a student assistant coach last
season, approached her parents and head coach June Daugherty about
"We were a little surprised at first," her mother, Teri Burt,
said. "But then we all focused on what we can do to make this
happen. We just decided we were going to support her. That we were
going to make a decision based on the knowledge we had obtained
through the doctors."
Before Tuesday's announcement could be made, a number of legal issues had to be worked out between the Burt family and the
university. The Burts have agreed to assume all risks associated
with her playing basketball and her heart condition, and release
the university from responsibility for any consequences.
"I think the intentions and objectives of both Kayla and her
family, and the university were both identical," Washington
athletic director Todd Turner said. "Let's be sure that it's clear
that this decision is one that Kayla is making and the university
has advised her about all of the issues that could result from this
decision, but that we're honoring her wish to make this decision."
Burt has two years of eligibility remaining and most likely will wear some type of pad or harness to protect her defibrillator. She
has been playing in open gyms at the university, but has yet to
take a serious blow, she said.
"She hasn't lost it," teammate Kristen O'Neill said. "Seeing
her name on the back of her jersey is going to be pretty