Sept. 26, 2007


<?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kansas middle blocker Natalie Uhart resumed play Wednesday night after sitting out nearly a month for treatment of a congenital defect in her heart.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Uhart, a junior from Lansing, Kan., became ill August 31 during a match against MichiganStateUniversity in Lansing, Mi. She was hospitalized in Lansing, where doctors determined that Uhart had a congenital heart defect called a patent foramen ovale (PFO).

“A PFO is a hole in the septum of the heart, the membrane dividing the upper chambers of the heart,” said Larry Magee, head team physician for Kansas Athletics. “Everyone has the hole before they are born. It usually closes at birth or soon after; for about 20 percent of the population, it doesn’t. Most people who have a PFO have no symptoms or problems.

“A small percentage of people with a PFO will experience symptoms, usually made worse with intense exercise,” Magee continued. “This is what happened with Natalie during the match at MichiganState. Based on Natalie’s symptoms – i.e., dizziness, weakness – and to reduce the risk of future problems, the physicians she saw in consultation recommended that she have the PFO surgically closed.”

“I made the decision to have the surgery because I wanted to be able to play to my full potential during every match, without reservation,” Uhart said. She underwent the surgery September 12 at St. Luke’s cardiovascular clinic in Kansas City, Mo., and was released the next day. “I am thrilled to get back onto the court and compete with my teammates,” she said.

“The surgery was successful.” Magee said. “We cleared Natalie for light practice last week, and today we cleared her for full athletics participation.”

After transferring from Long BeachState, Uhart missed all of last season with a knee injury suffered in August 2006 during the Jayhawks’ exhibition match against KU alumni. “Our team and coaching staff are thrilled that Natalie is healthy and that she has resumed play,” Jayhawks’ Coach Ray Bechard said. “She has overcome a lot since joining us, and we know she will be a force for us in Big 12 action.”

“I am excited about putting this all behind me,” Uhart said. “There’s nothing I want more than to help this team get back to the NCAA Tournament.” The Jayhawks have reached the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years.