MANKATO (AP) -- At times it looked to doctors like Korey Stringer's condition was improving. But something always happened to make them worse.
As an ambulance rushed Stringer to the hospital on Tuesday, physicians weren't able to get a blood pressure. Nor was Stringer conscious. Doctors quickly saw he was in shock and showing obvious heatstroke symptoms. His temperature was a frightening 108.8 Fahrenheit.
"When the temperature is that high, there is an 80 percent mortality rate," said Dr. David Knowles, a Mankato physician who coordinates Vikings medical care when the team is at training camp here.
The first plan was to bring Stringer's body temperature down.
As the day moved on, as many as 15 physicians were working on Stringer, Knowles said.
The Pro-Bowler appeared to make progress, but during the evening he developed a heatstroke-related bleeding condition that prevents the blood from clotting, Knowles said.
Stringer began to bleed from his orifices and from the places where needles were. He responded well to treatment for the condition, but then his kidneys began to fail. He was put on dialysis twice and physicians once again felt he was making progress. But then it was if his organs began to give up, Knowles said.
He needed help breathing and was put on a respirator. And then at 10 p.m., his heart began to fail.
"We thought we had turned a corner, but then his heart gave out and there was nothing we could do," Knowles said.
Stringer was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m.
"The people at the hospital, they did the most unbelievable job to try to recapture his life," Vikings receiver Cris Carter said at a news conference Wednesday. "There are just certain forces in nature you just can't change."
Experts said Stringer's size worked against him. His body generated tremendous amounts of heat, Robert Serfass, a kinesiologist at the University of Minnesota, said. Seventy-five to 80 percent of the energy produced by Stringer's workout would have turned into heat, which had nowhere to go.
And it was unlikely he could have drank enough to replace the liters of water he lost through sweat.
Knowles defended the team's decision to allow Stringer to practice Tuesday even though Stringer was held out of practice Monday afternoon because of the stifling heat.
"Before people rush to judgment on this, I hope they realize that we've had countless cases of players suffering heat cramps or heat exhaustion one day then performing well and with no adverse effects the next," he said.
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