According to the Orlando Sentinel, college football and sickle cell trait are a lethal combination for young athletes. There have been nine deaths related to sickle cell trait in college football since 2000, making up approximately 42.9 percent of the 21 non-traumatic deaths in college football. Sickle cell has killed more college athletes than heatstroke and cardiac issues combined.
A study led by Dr. Kevin M. Harris, director of the echocardiography laboratory at the Minneapolis Heart Institute, found that while deaths related to sickle cell trait are rare, they occur mostly in football.
Aaron Richardson died in 2004 on the first day he walked on the team at Bowling Green. Dale Lloyd II died in 2006 during a conditioning drill the day after a 55-7 Rice loss at Florida State. Seven other sickle cell deaths came after the football season where players were not playing or practicing football.
Most doctors and athletic trainers agree that certain factors can make offseason conditioning dangerous for those with sickle cell trait. These factors include first-day conditioning when players return out of shape, maximum effort drills like sprints that can cause sickling within minutes, heat and dehydration, pre-existing illnesses such a fever as it may increase the risk of complications in a player with sickle cell trait, and altitude which happens to affect those with sickle cell trait quicker and more severe than healthy players.
An Orlando injury lawyer can provide guidance if you or a loved one has suffered damaging effects of sickle cell trait.