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What killed prep football player?

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A doctor said the mysterious death of an Oklahoma high school football player may have been caused by a blood clot or fat embolism, the Oklahoman reported Saturday.

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Ryan Smith, 16, died Wednesday, one day after being treated for a broken leg suffered during practice at Edmond North High School, just north of Oklahoma City.

According to KOCO-TV, Smith was treated and released from the hospital for his leg injury Tuesday night, but after his grandparents were unable to wake him up the following evening, he was rushed back to the emergency room. He reportedly died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

A cause of death has not yet been released.

Dr. Arya Nick Shamie, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the newspaper it is possible that Smith suffered from deep vein thrombosis after the fracture, but his good physical condition could have made warning signs less obvious.

"It's very unusual for younger patients to have this unless they have a major trauma that damages the blood vessel," Shamie said.

He said the breaking of a bone can also damage soft tissue, leading to swelling that can compress blood vessels, skin, tendons or fat.

According to the report, the resulting impediment of blood flow can lead to deep vein thrombosis, a blood clotting inside the veins that can become lodged in the lung, causing internal asphyxiation.

Another possibility is that the trauma of a fracture can cause fat to clog blood vessels and lodge in the lung.

"These are very serious but yet extremely rare events that can happen with injury," Shamie said.

Smith, a sophomore on the Edmond North junior varsity football team, had transferred this year from nearby Santa Fe High School where he played football and wrestled as a freshman.

Edmond North school officials told KFOR-TV Smith was medically cleared to participate in sports prior to the start of the football season.

Tagged: Southern Methodist, Oklahoma, Ryan Smith

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