"Please Don't Let This Happen to Someone Else's Son"
A letter from Mark and Tina Davenport, parents of 16-year-old Tyler Davenport, who died in October 2010, three months after collapsing from heatstroke after football practice.
We are writing on behalf of our son, Tyler Davenport. Tyler had worked hard all summer to get prepared for the football season. He was at the field house everyday it was open, lifting and running. He took very good care of his body, ensuring he was always properly hydrated and nourished leading up to and following workouts. He was in the best shape he had ever been in.
August 11th started out like any other day for Tyler. He woke up and was preparing for the day. It was a hot day that day, so the team practiced in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets. Everything went as usual during practice that day. He worked hard all through practice. Every fifteen minutes, they would break for water and ice towel baths to try to combat the heat. Toward the end of practice, they were running 40 yard sprints as they do at the end of every practice. Tyler finished in front of the pack in every sprint. He showed no signs of being tired at all. Practice finished and they all took a knee and talked about how things went and what they needed to work on during the next practice. Still Tyler showed no signs of any problems. They broke the huddle and started back to the field house and after taking about ten steps, Tyler started to wobble. He stopped for a second and went down to one knee. He asked if he could lay down on his back for a moment and catch his breath. The coaching staff talked to him, asking him if he was okay. He responded that he was fine. They asked him to get up and get in the golf cart and ride to the field house, he responded by saying okay, just give me a second. By then he was still talking but his eyes were just staring off toward the sky. They asked one last time for him to get up or they were going to call the ambulance. His eyes rolled back in his head and he began to moan while he was breathing. The coaches covered him in ice towels and first responders were on the scene in about three minutes. The ambulance was there in less than ten minutes.
When he arrived at the emergency room he was still moaning with every breath. He was still sweating, so he was not dehydrated. His core body temperature was at 108 degrees. They did a CT scan on his brain to see if there was any damage. There was not, so they proceeded to pump ice water into his stomach and bladder in an effort to cool his core. By the time Angel 1 got there, his temperature was down to 103. On the flight to Children's, his core temperature elevated to 105. Once at Children's Hospital, they were able to lower his core temperature back to normal. We thought we were out of the woods. They informed us that although they fixed the thing that was causing the problem, the aftermath of the heatstroke was going to be devastating. He was given less than a 10% chance of making it through the night. The next morning, the doctors told us to call in any family that we had. He was deathly ill. Around noon that day, Tyler started to get a little more stable. Still listed as minute to minute and fighting for his life. The heatstroke affected every organ in his body. His kidneys were completely destroyed. His pancreas was very sick, liver was badly damaged and his gut not working at all. His heart and lungs were in decent shape. His brain was damaged but not nearly as bad as they thought it would be.
After two weeks of a medically induced coma, he was starting to wake up. Over the next several weeks, Tyler was aware what was going on. Some days were better than others. He could never speak, but could blink on command, give thumbs up, wave, give high fives, and he was even winking at the female doctors and nurses. Speech therapists were coming by to work with Tyler was able to mouth his name, our names, where he was at and why.
Over the course of the sixty days that Tyler was there, he would have great days where we had a lot of hope of him walking out of the hospital. Then he would get an infection and take a turn for the worst. It was an emotional roller coaster that we would never want another parent to have to go through. The last week he was there, we found out that his brain had global damage and he had damage to the nervous system that was causing his blood vessels to weaken. It was very hard to keep his blood pressure at an acceptable level. He had been on dialysis the entire time, and the blood thinners were causing his skin to bruise and then just open and the tissue inside was dying. He would eventually have lost his right hand and forearm. We knew at that point, we were losing him.
We told Tyler that if he was too tired to fight any longer that it was okay. We told him we were so proud of him for fighting as long as he could. We asked him if he was tired would he squeeze our hands. He did. On the early morning of October 12th, Tyler lost his battle with heatstroke, but became a true warrior in our eyes. This letter is not to put any blame on anyone. If it weren't for the quick actions of our coaches and the treatment he received at the hospital in Clarksville, he would have never made it to Children's Hospital and had a chance to fight for his life. We would like to see some change made regarding practicing out in the heat. Tyler has an eleven year old brother named Hunter. He is very athletic and plays all sports. We want to see these changes made so we can send him to practice or game without the fear of losing him the way we lost Tyler. Maybe restrictions on being out in the heat if the heat index is too high. Also more education on how to keep a players core from getting too hot.
I have enclosed pictures of our son Tyler. We want you to see what he looked like before August 11th. And we want you to see what heat stroke did to his body. Please consider making changes to how and when we practice our kids. Please don't let this happen to someone else's son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, and fellow teammate.
Mark and Tina Davenport