'I'm here and I'm thankful' Hall of Famer Deion Sanders Nearly Lost His Life to Blood Clots
Deion “Prime Time” Sanders is a man synonymous with the spotlight. He is known for his electric performances in big games, and his even bigger personality. Perhaps his most interesting accolade, Sanders is the only man to play in a Super Bowl and a World Series. Over his lifetime he has been an All-American, 2x Super Bowl Champion, 8x Pro Bowler, MLB Player, NFL analyst, college head coach, and now a blood clot survivor.
This week, Barstool Sports released a shocking episode of their documentary series “Coach Prime” that revealed Sanders had three life-threatening femoral arterial blood clots that led to two toes being amputated.
Sanders who currently is the head football coach at Jackson State University in Mississippi sought treatment for a dislocated toe and inflamed nerve. After the initial surgery, he was actively coaching with the help of crutches, and a scooter. His toes continued to bother him. It was clear they were not healing properly when he noticed his toes turning black. An astute team trainer suggested it may be a blood clot. Sanders spent 23 days in the hospital enduring multiple surgeries and complications. "The hardest thing of it all was to look down there and see that, and understand, once upon a time you was this type of athlete, and now you don't know if you're going to walk..." said Sanders.
After Sanders was diagnosed, he called his mother and learned he had a family history of blood clots. His mother and two uncles had been diagnosed in the past, one uncle tragically losing his life. Many factors can contribute to blood clots, including family medical history. According to studies published in Molecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine, there is at least a 30% higher genetic risk of African Americans developing VTE.
Patients are at the highest risk of developing a DVT five to ten days post-surgery, but the elevated risk can last as long as a month. With shorter hospital admissions, it is important now more than ever to keep patients protected after discharge. This means knowing your patient's risk factors and making sure prevention methods are in place. A mobile intermittent pneumatic compression device like Circul8 can be used both in the hospital and at home, and is an effective and drug-free way to help prevent blood clots from developing in the legs.
Since the amputation, Sanders has needed a lot of assistance. “You have no idea the lifestyle changes… Someone has to put me in the car. Someone has to put me in the bed, take me out of bed, take me to the bathroom. That hurt me emotionally… psychologically… The man that I am, the dog that I am, I got to get help on every aspect of life.” Sanders said. Despite his setbacks, he is still coaching and mentoring the young men that play for him. "I'm here and I'm thankful."
Blood clots can effect anyone, even healthy and active individuals. It is important as part of the medical community that we are taking steps to prevent DVT and educate our patients about the risk of blood clots.