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Community college basketball player died of heart condition

Posted April 30, 2010

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— A Vance-Granville Community College basketball player who collapsed during a game in February died of a rare heart condition that is one of the leading causes of death for student-athletes in the U.S., according to an autopsy report released Friday.

The autopsy results show that sophomore Raymond Dunn died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is a hereditary condition in which the heart muscles thicken, making it difficult for them to pump blood.

Raymond Dunn Community college athlete died of heart condition

Dunn collapsed while playing about 1½ hours into a home game in Henderson on Feb. 21. He died at Maria Parham Medical Center.

"It was the worst feeling ever," said Niles Forsythe, who was Dunn's teammate in college and high school. "I don't wish that on anybody, just seeing your best friend like that, and there's nothing you can do."

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most frequent cardiovascular cause of sudden death in young athletes, according to the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. Still, the disease is uncommon; it appears in about one of 200,000 athletes.

"We don't see it very often. You may go many, many years without a case showing up," said Dr. Glenn Charlton, medical director of the emergency department at Maria Parham.

The condition is usually detected through an electrocardiogram or MRI but can be hard to diagnose. There is no clear symptom that is unique to it, and some symptoms – shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitation and light-headedness – are often not recognized by patients, according to the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association.

"Not everyone who has the gene for it actually has the disease," Charlton said.

Dunn had recently undergone a cardiac evaluation that did not result in any specific findings, according to the autopsy report.

A 6-foot-4 inch, 190-pound forward from Henderson, he was being recruited by four-year colleges, V-GCC President Randy Parker said. In the month before his death, he had three double doubles and hit a career-high 52 points and 30 rebounds in a game.

Dunn played high school basketball for Norlina Christian School and Northern Vance High School. He led Norlina to a conference championship in 2008.

"He practiced hard, and he made the games look easy. It was just one of those things that I admired about Raymond," Forsythe said.

Forsythe remembered the day in high when they met. "We just hit it off as friends," he said. "The first day I met him was like, 'What's up? My name is Niles.' 'My name is Raymond.'"

Forsythe said he had never heard of the disease that killed his friend, but his new goal is to make sure everyone knows about it.

"I could educate people about this – about my friend Raymond," he said.


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  • Twittyfan Apr 30, 2010

    My husband died just like this at 38 years old. He went to several doctors and had all kinds of test (heart, brain, blood etc) but everything came back as normal..

  • wildcat Apr 30, 2010

    My condolences to his family and many friends. Obviously, he did not receive a thorough check-up. So sad.

  • sweet4you Apr 30, 2010

    my prayers go out to the family of this fine young man. May GOD BLESS YOU!

  • americangirl Apr 30, 2010

    What a tremendous loss for this family and he community, he looks and sounds to be very upstanding and going places. From the pictures he seems to be a gentle giant!
    As a nurse, I know this kind of cardiac problem can be missed, sometime there are not symptoms until there is an irregular heart beat and that is unfortunate.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Apr 30, 2010

    Very sad. It's scary to think an outwardly healthy young person can die suddenly from heart failure. I hope we don't use this is an excuse to have less physical activity.

  • jocomom Apr 30, 2010

    As a mother - I send my deepest condolences to this young man's family. My son was born with a congenital heart defect (which has now been surgically corrected) so I feel a special kind of pain for this family. My prayers are with them as they grieve this enormous loss.

  • OGE Apr 30, 2010

    I find it hard to believe this young man played sports for as long as he did and no one knew he had a heart condition. I honestly hope his death wasnt a result of some doctors inadequacies ...

    If you are going to throw his Doctors under the bus you might as well throw him and his parents under there too. There are generally some sort of symptoms precedeing a you persons death due to heart failure. Those symptoms are just not generally paid attention to because this is a young person and the prevailing thought is that there is no way a young person can have a heart condition.

  • Agent 46 Apr 30, 2010

    sad news,my prayers go out to the family,and best wishes

  • raggy831 Apr 30, 2010

    sad for the family..just glad that he was not on drugs..why did it take so long for the report to come back? very nice looking young man,

  • jpittard2 Apr 30, 2010

    Is this the same condition that Nolan Smith's father had?