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Stop The Clot 5K Run/Walk Raises Blood Clot Awareness

runManu “Shaq” Ajamu Williams was a healthy 36-year-old with bulging biceps and an outsized personality when blood clots took his life last September. Now, his former fiancée is working to honor him through a 5K race that seeks to raise money for the National Blood Clot Alliance and to pay for his headstone.

“Shaq was always with me when I did 5Ks and marathons,” Edgewater resident Christina “Chris” Martin said on Saturday, April 11. Though the couple was no longer engaged when Williams passed away on Sept. 28, 2014, they still talked frequently, and Martin considered him her “go-to” person whenever she was having problems.

Martin met Williams when they were students at Naperville Central High School. She was a freshman when he was a senior. “From age 14 to 32, we were dating,” Martin said. “And then, after that, we were still really good friends. I consider him to be my soul mate, my best friend, everything.”

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Race Map

Williams’ problems with blood clots began in 2002, when he passed out at work. He had broken his ankle a month before, causing blood clots to enter his lungs. “He was in the hospital for more than a week, as the doctors worked day and night to break up his blood clots,” Martin wrote on www.stoptheclot.org. “Fortunately, he was cleared to go home and started taking a blood thinner regularly.”

Yet Williams’ problems with blood clots persisted. The issue returned in 2008, after he had minor inpatient surgery to remove an abscess in his lower thigh. “This time it was more serious, as he had eight blood clots in his lungs very close to his heart and he was in a lot of pain,” Martin said on the website. That issue was resolved and he was sent home with a prescription for more blood thinners.

In August 2014, Williams returned to the doctor complaining of leg pain, telling the doctor it might be a blood clot. The doctor told him it was a hamstring pull and sent him home, Martin wrote on the website. On Sept. 28 of that year, Williams passed out after having trouble breathing. He was rushed to the hospital but died that afternoon after a blood clot entered his heart.

A total of 274 people die every day from blood clots, according to the National Blood Clot Alliance. This non-profit, voluntary health organization is dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and clot-provoked stroke.

Here are some of the most common risk factors for blood clots:

  • Cancer and cancer treatments.
  • Hospitalization for illness or surgery.
  • Use of birth control methods that contain estrogen, such as the pill, patch or ring.
  • Pregnancy, including the six weeks after the baby is born.
  • A family history of blood clots.

Meanwhile, Martin’s Stop the Clot Chicago 5K Run/Walk will take place on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, at Montrose Beach, 4400 N. Lake Shore Drive, starting at 9 a.m. Registration is $28 per adult or $100 for teams of four before May 5. Major race sponsors include Road Runner Sports, the National Blood Clot Alliance, Orange Theory Fitness, and Jason’s Deli.

Roughly 100 people have already signed up for the race, and about 150 people are virtual runners, meaning they are supporters but won’t be taking part in the event that day.

To register for the race, visit www.stoptheclotchicago.com. For more information about blood clots, visit www.stoptheclot.org.

“It is very important that we educate ourselves about the risks of blood clots,” Martin said. “Oftentimes, doctors may misdiagnose a blood clot as a muscle pull or a minor injury. It’s important for us to talk to family and friends about the risks, learn the symptoms and demand more tests while they are in the hospital or doctor’s office.”

 


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