Autopsy points to blood clot in cyclist’s death

CEBU CITY -- An autopsy on Ramon Igaña Jr., the cyclist who died during the Ironman 70.3 last Sunday, revealed that his death was caused by an acute pulmonary embolism.

Dr. Paolo Soriano of the Visayas Community Medical Center said this condition occurs when a clot forms in blood vessels in the lower extremities, like the foot or pelvis.

This clot, for some reason, gets dislodged and circulates all the way to the lungs, where it blocks the airway.

Before Igaña’s fall, race marshal Mark Sala saw that Igaña was pale and his bike was swerving. Thinking that the rider was over-fatigued, he followed him. Not long after, Sala saw Igaña falling from his bike.

“Since the pulmonary arteries are blocked, no oxygen could pass through. That explains why he looked pale because the circulation decreased, so he passed out,” said Soriano.

Soriano added that this condition does not happen overnight as it takes years to see symptoms of the clot.

But Dr. Peter Mancao, a running doctor close to the family, said they found it hard to reconcile why this happened since acute pulmonary embolism is common among people who are stationary for long periods of time.

“I have not encountered this in sports. This is very common when one is on long-haul flights and has been sitting for hours. Blood tends to clot in veins on the leg. This clot will go to the lungs, thus causing the condition,” said Mancao.

Igaña was one-third of team TTB Extreme who competed in the relay event of the Ironman last Sunday. He was doing the 90-kilometer bike segment of the race, while his wife, Dr. Humility Igaña, was supposed to do the half-marathon afterwards. However, Igaña never arrived at the transition point.

In a press statement, Sunrise Events Inc.’s Princess Galura said the entire Ironman community expresses deep sympathies to the Igaña family.

Galura added they have extended whatever help they can to the family and she was impressed by how Dr. Igaña is holding up.

“She is a very strong woman,” said Galura after visiting the wake. Galura said they will return to the wake on Wednesday.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia expressed the Capitol’s sympathies to the Igaña family.

According to a television report, while Dr. Igaña did not lay any blame on the event organizers, she also questioned if there was enough medical support deployed during the event.

She added that if Ramon had been quickly brought to the hospital, there could have been a greater chance of saving his life.

Earlier this year, Igaña underwent an electrocardiogram and was found to be in normal condition.

The Igañas, who have been married for almost 16 years, are active in Cebu’s running and cycling communities, and Ramon’s death has provoked an outpouring of sympathy for the family. (MCB/JBT/With FMG/Sun.Star Cebu)