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Gabbard transferred to rehab facility in St. Paul

As Zach Gabbard continues to make "significant strides" in his recovery, according to a March 3 hospital release, a small town in Michigan mourns the loss of a teammate in conditions all-too-similar to Gabbard's.

Sixteen-year-old Wes Leonard of Fennville, Mich. collapsed after making the game-winning basket during a game on March 3. Leonard was pronounced dead at the hospital, where an autopsy revealed that he had died of cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.

Fennville is a town of roughly 1,400 in southern Michigan.

Meanwhile, Gabbard, who doctors believe collapsed because of a respiratory infection, was transferred on March 4 from the University of Minnesota Medical Center to Bethesda Hospital - HealthEast in St. Paul.

The 17-year-old from Perham has been hospitalized since he collapsed during a basketball game on Jan. 20.

"Zach is working hard every day at physical therapy and getting better so he can rejoin his classmates and his teammates in Perham," Zach's family said in the statement. "Zach's desire to play basketball again is motivating him as he undertakes this incredibly difficult training."

Zach's physician, Dr. Ranjit John, said hospital staff is "extremely pleased" with Zach's progress.

"From a medical viewpoint, when Zach first arrived, he was critically ill requiring heart assist devices to keep him alive," John said. "However, during his stay here, he has made significant strides to a point in which his heart has fully recovered."

According to Pat Nordick, organizer of the Feb. 27 fundraiser for the Gabbard family held in Perham, the amount of money raised during the event now totals over $74,000.

The New Hope Cinema Grill in New Hope, Minn. also held a benefit event for Gabbard on March 6. Roughly 140 people attended the event and $5,300 was raised, according to Jerry Eaton, New Hope Cinema Grill manager and benefit organizer.

According to a post on his CaringBridge site, doctors plan on monitoring Gabbard's heart for about a week as a precautionary measure. Gabbard began occupational, physical and speech therapies on March 7, and will continue to have each therapy six days a week, the site read.