Doctors say player death isolated case - - Jackson, MS

Doctors say Wilbanks' death isolated case

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Dr. Joe Pressler   Source: WLBT Dr. Joe Pressler Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

He was a two sport high school student, who showed no signs of any physical problems, and friends and family members of Jackson Prep football player Walker Wilbanks are struggling to understand his untimely death.

Physicians at UMMC who treated Walker Wilbanks want people to know that his physical make up was different from others that he took the field with.

It was his physical condition that made him more vulnerable while exercising in high temperatures.

"We don't want parents scared to send their kids out to play athletic events and tell them you need to drink more because that's not necessarily the answer, said Dr. Joe Pressler, Director of PUlmonary and Critical Care at UMMC."

In simple terms, he says he died from swelling of the brain. That occurred due to a deficiency of sodium in his blood stream, which was replaced with water and electrolytes from sports drinks he was drinking.

Unfortunately his body didn't retain the sodium, leading water to surround his brain cells.

"This is an unfortunate incident in this young mans life that revolves around this balance of sodium and water, but it was in no way a reflection of him being hydrated or over hydrated," added Dr. Pressler.

Doctors say Wilbanks' extremely low sodium levels were an isolated case, which went to a critical stage because he was exercising in extreme heat.

Physicians say it's possible to over hydrate when exercising, but in most cases, athletes bodies are able to maintain the proper level of sodium.

"He was very active, very healthy, and played athletics all summer, never had a problem," said Dr. Pressler. "Kids across the country play athletics everyday in this heat. They hydrate the same and it doesn't happen, which is why we want to stress this was an isolated incident."

The funeral service for Wilbanks will be held Friday, August 29, at 11 a.m. at the First Baptist Church Sanctuary. Visitation will be Thursday from 5-7:30 p.m., also at the church sanctuary.

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