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September 4, 2003
Albany - An Albany State University football player who died while running had a physical exam just hours before his death.
Twenty-six-year-old Jackie Blanding was told he needed a second opinion before hitting the field. A big question, could the death of the 270 pound defensive lineman been prevented?
Blanding died on the first day of football training because of swelling of his heart. He had a physical exam the day before he died. While there was no indication of anything out of the ordinary, Blanding's blood pressure was a little high.
Every year athletes have physical examinations in order to play. But doctors say it's just a screening and while it doesn't necessarily catch major health problems, it does raise red flags.
Blanding collapsed and died while running on the Sand Dunes August 7th. He was football training for ASU Rams. EMS records show Blanding was breathing ONLY six times per minute.
Doctor Bobby Prince with Southwest Georgia Orthopedics does not know Blanding, but he does do physicals for Albany State University and Dougherty County athletes. He says, "If it [health] prevents them from playing we mark that [on the form]. You have to be followed up or you have to be cleared by your whatever, it may be they had surgery and we don't feel comfortable clearing them until a doctor who worked on them clears them."
On the copy of Blanding's physical evaluation, the doctor's signature is illegible, but it's dated 8/6/03 which is the day before Blanding died. It appears the doctor took Blanding's pulse and blood pressure, but no other details were written down.
At the bottom, the doctor did not check cleared or not cleared, but wrote Blanding needed to follow up with his Primary Care Doctor for Hypertension. There are no records showing Blanding did a second exam.
A physical examination is not in depth, but it can raise red flags. However it's important for students and parents pay close attention to forms. Dr. Prince adds, "This history is important they give us that they sign off, checks on symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pains, blackouts, headaches."
Blanding checked NO on all of the above. His mother told us he also doesn't have a history of heart problems. An autopsy showed Blanding was drug and alcohol free at his time of death.
We tried to get a copy of Blanding's death certificate, but a copy was not available at the Dougherty County Probate Judge's office.