State News

Autopsy: Knightdale track athlete had sickle-cell trait

Posted October 15, 2010
Updated October 16, 2010

— A Knightdale High School graduate trying out for the North Carolina A&T University track team died of a blood problem that could have been caught if he had had a physical exam, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

The findings led N.C. A&T to fire its athletics director.

The autopsy determined Jospin "Andre" Milandu, 20, of Knightdale, died in August as a result of complications of sickle-cell trait, combined with with physical exertion.

The genetic blood disorder causes red blood cells to form an abnormal sickle shape that limits their oxygen-carrying ability can damage organs and cause other serious problems, including putting people more at risk for heat-related problems.

"If this is an extertional heat-related death, it could have been prevented," said Dr. Rupa Redding-Lallinger, co-director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Redding-Lallinger cited NCAA rules that require Division I schools to test athletes for sickle-cell trait.

N.C. A&T didn't give Milandu a physical exam before allowing him to try out.

Chancellor Harold Martin said last month that the tryout supervised by the retiring track coach wasn’t approved and that none of the 29 students who participated had a physical on file.

Jospin Milandu Athlete's death leads to official's dismissal

In a statement Friday, Martin said he had closed the internal investigation into Milandu's death and "discontinued" the employment of athletic director Wheeler Brown.

"We deeply regret Andre's loss," Martin said. "Since my arrival at North Carolina A&T, I have consistently stressed the importance of adherence to university policies, practices and procedures with all university administrators. ... I commit to you that I will take constructive steps to move our athletics program in a different direction."

Family members said that Milandu ran track while a student at Knightdale High and dreamed of competing in the Olympics. Martin said his peers at N.C. AT&T knew him as "caring and kind-hearted young man."

Redding-Lallinger expressed sadness for his untimely death and said proper hydration and carefully monitored conditioning should be required for all athletes.

"People without the (sickle-cell) trait get heat-related illness and death, so why not protect everyone?" she said.

All newborns in North Carolina have been tested for sickle-cell trait since 1994. Milandu's mother said Friday that family didn't know he had the genetic abnormality.

Family members declined to comment on whether any legal action would be taken against N.C. A&T.


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  • asjdiw Oct 15, 2010

    If you have the trait, you are still predisposed to health problems, especially under exertion. I am sure we all appreciate the NAS members's input but stick to your field of expertise.

  • wildcat Oct 15, 2010

    finally the real truth comes out. wonder if his parents even knew that.

  • KSJ Oct 15, 2010

    First of all having the trait and having the disease are not the same thing. If you have the trait only, you don't actually have the disease. Having a trait is only a problem if both parents have it....then a baby has one in four chances of having the actual disease. In the state of NC all infants are required to have a newborn metabolic screen done in the hospital which tests for the Sickle cell trait.

  • yorky1966 Oct 15, 2010

    Airborne- African Americans are not the only ethnicity to have sickle cell. In general, any person of color can have the trait or disease-Italians, Greeks, Arabs, Indians, etc.

  • nicolealston Oct 15, 2010

    I wish people will learn or read about Sickle Cell Trait before they start talking. For one when a child get a sports exam there is no labs. When kids get a year exam only blood work they check is from 12mths until 5yrs is lead and hemoglobin. Now the check it n there newborn labs. U can die from Sickle Cell Trait if u out n the HOTTTTTTT sun with no water and only one parent has to have the trait for the child to get the trait.

  • eichn001 Oct 15, 2010

    above link is to the article from News & Recrod. He had SICKLE CELL TRAIT.

  • serious Oct 15, 2010

    That is saying that had he had an exam, the exam would have indicated IF he had the trait. That doesn't say he had the trait.

  • eichn001 Oct 15, 2010

    "The exam could have detected if Milandu had the trait."

  • serious Oct 15, 2010

    Unless I am reading a different article, it doesn't say he had the trait anywhere in the article, except for in the title.

  • eichn001 Oct 15, 2010

    VbrownNC- article actually says further down that it was the trait, also. Maybe the editor will adjust it.