Complications From Heatstroke Are Silent Killer

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

HENDERSON, Tenn. — Slater Springman should have died from complications of heatstroke.

In fact, it is a medical miracle he is still alive today after recovering from an induced coma for 3 weeks and a 3 1/2 month stay in hospitals as he battled to stay alive.

Ultimately, medical bills would run over $2 million.

It all started last Aug. 27 when he collapsed during a 2 mile conditioning run at Freed-Hardeman University as the baseball players were preparing for the 2019 season.

Springman was the picture of health.

He didn’t suffer from any ailment and was pre-hydrated for the 2 mile run.

The National Weather Service said the high that day was 94 degrees with high humidity as Slater began his run with the rest of the players.

He struggled to keep running at the 1 1/2 mile point and started to collapse as he was immediately brought indoors and put on a cold floor. His body was packed in ice to reduce his core temperature which reached 105 degrees.

A trainer called 911 and an ambulance quickly arrived.

The initial thought was that he would get rehydrated with an IV and be fine.

Instead, it turned into a nightmare.

“I had been catching in the Jayhawk League all summer in Kansas,” said Springman.

“In addition, I had been working out and was in great physical shape. This particular day (Aug. 27) was our first day of conditioning at the school.

“We were doing the ‘2 Mile Push,’ and I was about 1 1/2 miles into it when I started having problems. This conditioning involves running the first mile on your own as fast as you can. With no rest, you then run the final mile as baseball players are stationed about every 100 yards or so and run a short distance next to you to urge you to run as fast as possible on this final stage of the run.

“I’m not a big runner, but normally that distance has never been a problem for me to complete. I had never had heatstroke before.

“As I started struggling, I was helped off to the side. That is when I passed out. I was taken into the clubhouse area, had my shirt taken off and people put me down on the concrete floor. I was then packed in ice to reduce the core temperature of my body.

“Everyone thought I just overheated and was dehydrated. The temperature that day wasn’t overly hot. It was 90-94 degrees, and it had rained that morning. So it was really humid, and we began our running about 4 p.m. But it wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to.”

Just prior to packing Slater in ice, the trainer called 911 to get an ambulance immediately.

“The ambulance took me to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital which is about 20 minutes away or so. Once I got to the hospital, I was having a bunch of seizures. What they did was put me in a medically induced coma to try and slow that down and let my body heal on its own.

“I was in a coma for about three weeks. It was a little weird waking up after all that time. I thought I was out for a couple of hours. I remember passing out. The next thing I remember is being in the hospital. I looked at the board in the hospital room, and it had some date in September, and I was really confused.

“Then people explained everything that happened to me.”

At Death’s Door
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR), 149 men and women college athletes died from 1982-2017 from indirect causes related to their sport such as heatstroke and sudden cardiac arrest.

This typically takes place when overexertion causes key organs in the body to fail.

The number of high school indirect fatalities from 1982-2017 was 584 for men and women, according to the NCCSIR.

Slater discussed how close he was to dying from complications of heatstroke.

“A condition called rhabdo-myolysis had set in. This is what has caused football players to die from time to time from workouts. Essentially this condition breaks down the skeleton muscle into the blood stream. Since the muscle fibers are thicker than blood, whenever it passes through the kidneys, it clogs them up and caused them to shut down.

“In turn, other organs in your body begin to shut down as well.”

Since 2007, the NCAA has reported 49 athletes who have experienced rhabdomyolysis. The number is now 50 with Slater Springman’s case.

“As they were monitoring my kidney function, they looked specifically at the creatine phosphokinase (CPK) number I had,” said Slater.

“A normal kidney will have a level of around 200. When I got to the hospital, that level was at 250,000 which they had never seen before.

“Every day after that for about eight days while I was in an induced coma, the numbers kept going up by about 100,000 each day. It ultimately topped out at about 1 million. My parents were wondering what doctors could do to stop it from rising each day. They said nothing. It just had to stop on its own.”

To read more of this article, purchase the April 5, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.