January 05, 2012

Steelers' Clark Can't Play Because of Sickle-Cell: Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, the team's leading tackler, can't play Sunday's playoff game in Denver because he has sickle-cell trait. In 2007, the stress of playing the Broncos at high altitude caused Clark to become seriously ill and lose both his spleen and gall bladder.

posted by rcade to football at 08:33 AM - 12 comments

I am glad Tomlin won't let him play. I hope the team rallies around winning for Clark.

posted by scully at 09:46 AM on January 05, 2012

If the NFL didn't give division winners home field over wild-card teams with better records, this wouldn't be an issue. Pittsburgh won four more games than Denver. The game should be at Heinz Field.

posted by rcade at 09:51 AM on January 05, 2012

Once they pan over the stadium in Denver and hear the crowd you'll realize that it will pretty much be a home game for Pittsburgh. There are a ton on Steeler fans here. Any extra tickets this week will most likely be bought up by them.

posted by straw22 at 10:05 AM on January 05, 2012

Normally, yeah, the Steelers fans take over. This is not a normal year.

What does the sickle-cell condition do that makes playing at altitude dangerous? It seems strange to me that he could be a high level athlete at sea level but at five thousand feet he's dropping organs.

posted by tron7 at 10:40 AM on January 05, 2012

A hereditary disease that is a mild version of sickle cell anaemia. The disease is endemic in Africa where the trait confers some resistance to malaria. Consequently, there is a high incidence of sickle cell trait among black people of African origin: for example, 5% of Black Americans have the trait, but less than 0.01% of whites. The red blood cells of people with sickle cell trait appear normal, and only about 40% of the haemoglobin is abnormal. This produces only mild anaemia and those with the trait can usually lead an active life and can participate in sport, even at the highest level. However, extreme conditions (such as maximal exercise in hot weather, or exercising at high altitude before complete acclimatization) can precipitate a life-threatening syndrome called fulminant exertional rhabdomyolysis. Blood cells in limbs become sickle shaped, and may lead to kidney failure, collapse, and even death. To avoid this syndrome, athletes with sickle cell trait should train wisely, ensure that they do not become dehydrated, and rest at the first signs of environmental stress.

posted by Debo270 at 11:02 AM on January 05, 2012

Sorry for all of that. Go web M.D.

posted by Debo270 at 11:13 AM on January 05, 2012

Why apologize? It may have been a copy/paste, but it was useful and helpful and informative! Thanks for sharing that.

posted by hincandenza at 12:50 PM on January 05, 2012

Thanks, Debo. It still stikes me as strange, or maybe impressive, that he could be a proffesional athlete while avoiding things like dehydration and excercise in hot weather.

The second highest altitude is in Phoenix at only 1100 feet. So, Denver is really the only place he'd have a problem.

posted by tron7 at 01:36 PM on January 05, 2012

If you want a simple version of sickle cell, if you don't have enough oxygen in your blood the red blood cells become deformed and can then get caught in arteries and capillaries, causing blood to back up and clots to form. It's often painful, potentially life threatening, and higher elevations have air with less oxygen in it, so it increases the risk.

posted by apoch at 02:05 PM on January 05, 2012

This a scary condition, in my paternal family I've lost Two Aunts & Two Uncles at relatively young ages & as a child I remember being poked with needles on a regular basis, which now I know was to test me for this disease. It just slowly destroys your body.

posted by bo_fan at 03:11 PM on January 05, 2012

If you want a simple version of sickle cell

Thanks, but I will pass.

posted by yerfatma at 03:13 PM on January 05, 2012

Am I a horrible person for immediately thinking "...take the points"?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:48 PM on January 05, 2012

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