Health Sciences Campus

CNN to air documentary featuring ECU physicians

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, left, speaks with ECU trauma surgeon Dr. Scott Sagraves on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Pitt County Memorial Hospital about the 2008 death of high school football player Jaquan Waller following a head injury. Photo by Doug Boyd
GREENVILLE, N.C.  (Oct. 17, 2011)  —  CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with East Carolina University specialists Saturday, Oct. 15, about the 2008 death of high school football player Jaquan Waller following a head injury. CNN will air a documentary early next year on reducing head injuries in football.

A CNN crew has been following the J.H. Rose High School football team this year, three seasons after Waller, who played running back for Rose, died after suffering a blow to the head two days before a game and then another blow during the game. ECU forensic pathologist Dr. M.G.F. Gilliland ruled his cause of death as second impact syndrome.

Pitt County Schools revamped its athletic traning program following Waller's death and now has trainers from ECU at every football game. They practice under the medical license of Dr. Brock Niceler, a board-certified sports medicine specialist in the Department of Family Medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.

Gupta, a neurosurgeon, interviewed Niceler and Dr. Scott Sagraves, associate professor and chief of trauma and surgical critical care, while in Greenville. Sagraves treated Waller when the player arrived at the Pitt County Memorial Hospital trauma center.

Earlier this year, Gov. Beverly Perdue signed into law the Gfeller-Waller Concussion Awareness Act, named for the Rose High athlete and 15-year-old Matthew Gfeller of R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, who also died three years ago. The law intends to provide better education about the danger of head injuries. It also requires schools to have an emergency action plan in place to protect student-athletes.

Contact: Doug Boyd | 252-744-2482