<
>

Autopsy shows Hawks' Collier had enlarged heart

11/1/2005 - Atlanta Hawks

DECATUR, Ga. -- Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier died from
a sudden heart rhythm disturbance caused by an abnormally enlarged
heart, an autopsy showed.
The state's chief medical examiner, Dr. Kris Sperry, said his
testing showed that electrocardiograms administered to Collier in
2003 and this year showed "some indication of electrical
abnormalities."
"Looking at them now, and in retrospect in knowing what's going
on with his heart, the abnormalities may have been associated with
what we found in examining his heart," Sperry said.
He said that he had no evidence that the 28-year-old Collier was
informed there was anything wrong with his heart. Collier's wife
said he had never been told of a reason for concern, Sperry said.
Collier's father, Jeff, did not immediately return a phone
message left at his Springfield, Ohio, home seeking comment
Tuesday. He told The Associated Press after his son's death that
his son did not have any diagnosed health problems besides past
injuries to his knees.
The 7-foot Collier, who played at Georgia Tech, was with the
Hawks for two years after spending three years with the Houston
Rockets. He died after having trouble breathing in his suburban
Atlanta home.
Sperry indicated that the family has concerns about the medical
tests in 2003 and 2005 and "when we get all the findings back I
think the family will have some of those examined in closer detail,
based upon the results."
Sperry did not say that the Hawks or Rockets were negligent in
clearing Collier to play in the NBA.
He said an enlarged heart can be very difficult to detect,
especially due to Collier's size. But he said the player's heart
"was above the accepted limits, even for a man of his size."
He said the organ was about one and a half times the size it
should have been.
"We have the unfortunate advantage of taking the heart out and
weighing it," Sperry said.
Sperry also said that the electrical abnormalities could have
been a reason for further testing.
"If it were me, I would have wanted more studies done to
clarify what those abnormalities meant in light of the fact Jason
was an athlete," he said.
The autopsy was conducted by the Georgia Bureau of
Investigation, which performs all Forsyth County autopsies, GBI
spokesman John Bankhead said.
The Hawks left Atlanta on Tuesday for Oakland, where they open
their season Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors.
The players are wearing black shoulder patches on their uniforms
to honor Collier, who was a part-time starter. He began his college
career at Indiana before transferring to Georgia Tech.
The Hawks will leave Collier's uniform in his locker through the
season.