"Alex had an accident," a voice on the phone told Alex's father, Maurice. Maurice was at his office when he received the call from Alex's school.
Focused on becoming a member of his high school football team, 15-year-old Alex was participating in a voluntary workout before formal practice sessions began for the season. While running, Alex began to feel strange. His face felt odd. He wasn't sweating. Suddenly, Alex couldn't feel his legs under him. "I thought I was going to die," he said.
That was the last thing Alex remembered before collapsing to the ground, unconscious.
The school staff acted immediately and called 911. Alex was rushed to the WakeMed Children's Emergency Department, where he was diagnosed with a severe case of heat stroke.
Maurice got to WakeMed just after Alex arrived. Dr. Mark Piehl, a pediatric intensivist with WakeMed Children's, told Maurice some shocking news: Alex's temperature was 107.7 degrees - one of the highest body temperatures he had ever seen.
Alex was stabilized in the Children's Emergency Department and moved to the specialized Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where he was placed on a ventilator and sedated. His mother, Lark, who had been out of town, joined her husband and Alex in the PICU. Together, they watched over Alex for the next few days.
On the third day, the PICU staff took Alex off the ventilator. To everyone's relief, Alex began to recover quickly, which does not always happen.
"Heat stroke can cause lifelong damage to the lungs, heart and brain if it isn't caught early, said Piehl. Fortunately for Alex, those long-term health problems are not a concern. He has made a strong comeback, thanks to his school staff, emergency medical services technicians and the highly skilled team at WakeMed Children's.
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