Truro golfer has heart surgery to fix murmur
Eric Banks will be unable to defend his provincial amateur and junior golf titles this season after undergoing open-heart surgery last week to correct a heart murmur. The problem was found when the 19-year-old Truro resident was evaluated during his freshman year at the University of Florida last fall. File photo
TRURO - Eric Banks has taken many long, hard walks.
The 19-year-old Truro resident and golf star has trudged along courses in plenty of pressure situations. But the walk into the hospital to undergo open heart surgery last week was his toughest trek yet.
"I was just trying to stay positive and think about how much better I was going to feel but it was pretty scary," Banks said. "When they tell you about some of the risks, it makes you freak out a little bit."
Banks, a member of the Florida Gators and Canada's amateur squad, had surgery June 25 to fix a hole between the left and right atria in his heart. He'll miss the entire golf season in Nova Scotia and possibly the start of the NCAA campaign, which gets underway in late August, depending on how his recovery progresses.
"We'll have to talk about it with the surgeon and see how things are going at that time and make a decision," Banks said of his evaluation in six weeks.
The development comes just as Banks would be hitting Bell Bay today to defend his Nova Scotia amateur crown, which he won on home turf last year, becoming just the second golfer in history to win both the amateur and junior titles in the same season. He is also just one of four juniors to ever claim an amateur crown.
But as much as he loves golf - he rarely goes an hour without a club in his hand - Banks didn't hesitate to give it up when it came to his health.
"I had a lot of tournaments in the U.S. set up through Team Canada and my coach (Buddy Alexander) at school, but this is a way bigger deal than playing a few tournaments," he said. "It probably added 30 years onto my life. I'll take that for a summer of golf."
The right side of Banks' heart was also three times larger than the left. The problems were detected by doctors at the University of Florida during physicals for the school's athletes last fall. The problems were causing Banks to tire quickly during workouts and often made him feel sick.
He just completed his freshman year at the school.
Now Banks faces a long recovery. After four days in hospital, he returned home late last week and only started walking around the house on Monday.
"I was out for seven minutes and I'm supposed to add a minute every day," he said.
Due to having his sternum broken for the operation, Banks cannot use his arms, making getting around difficult.
"It definitely makes you realize how lucky you are and makes you appreciate things a lot more," he said.
Banks is also grateful for the efforts of Dr. Camille Hancock-Friesen, who performed the four-hour procedure.
"She put 30 years onto my life," he said. "That's huge. It's pretty crazy to think about."