Winning Against Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT):
How a Prime-of-Life Major League Manager Strikes Back
By Terry Francona
Manager, Boston Red Sox
Make no mistake — we all know that life can throw us the occasional curve
In professional sports, many athletes are inclined to think they can cover all those
We think that because we're conditioned to win and conditioned against health problems.
I learned the hard way that even top-tier athletes and people in the prime of life
are not immune. You see, I am a very lucky two-time survivor of pulmonary embolism,
a life-threatening complication of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). It didn't matter
that I was the manager of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox. It didn't matter
that I was relatively young, active and otherwise healthy. I was affected by DVT
just like anybody else.
Initially, I thought I strained my leg muscle during a very light post-surgery workout.
But just to be safe, I contacted my doctor. That simple phone call, and ongoing
communication with my doctor, turned out to be critical. That's when my treatment
for and education about DVT began.
On the team that I manage, my players have a good relationship with our medical
staff. We play 162 games a year and work together for nine months, day in and day
out. Without question, the sustained interaction between the team and medical staff
ensures that we have the health and endurance to play from pre- to post-season.
For me, simply knowing about my own DVT risk is not enough. Now, I am committed
to helping others reduce their risk of experiencing this serious condition. I regularly
hear from people like me who are eager to share their DVT experiences, and it's
encouraging to hear how they have struck out DVT. It proves there is a way to win
against this serious condition. And while I don't often share my personal DVT story
with my players, they all know about it. To really make DVT prevention a winning
effort, we must increase our awareness and knowledge of it, and we must maintain
strong relationships with our healthcare providers. It's that "double play" of knowledge
and communication that can best protect our health.
One thing I'm sure of: The more you know about your health, the more you will be
prepared when life throws you the unexpected curve ball.
Striking Out Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Winning is Always a Team Effort
By Geno Merli, M.D.
Steering Committee Member, Coalition to Prevent DVT
Ludwig Kind Professor of Medicine and Director of the Jefferson Center for Vascular
Diseases, Jefferson Medical College and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
When I met Terry Francona, the busy manager of the Boston Red Sox baseball team,
my first order of business was to diagnose and treat his condition, a life-threatening
pulmonary embolism. Just how this silent, vascular threat can suddenly strike a
healthy and fit man such as Terry is hard to comprehend.
That brought us to the next order of business: to educate Terry so that like many
patients at risk for DVT, he could understand the risks and learn more about prevention.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that recognizing warning signs and symptoms is
essential for reducing the chance that DVT will strike.
In Terry's case, just ten days after having knee surgery, he experienced severe
chest pains while interviewing for a post as the manager of the Seattle Mariners.
As soon as he returned home, he contacted me and that's when we discovered that
a DVT blood clot had traveled to both of his lungs. A pulmonary embolism can be
fatal, but luckily, Terry sought medical intervention quickly. With DVT, we must
realize that it can strike those of us who are healthy or fit, and worse, we are
often confronting a silent and stealth condition, which makes it challenging to
To manage DVT risk, there is an essential need for good communication between doctor
and patient. In Terry's case, we established a rapport that led to his willingness
to understand the "rules of the game" for DVT prevention. While many athletes like
to play by their own rules, in the case of DVT, the rules to protect one's health
prevail. What followed was an intense communication and education effort. The end
result was an informed patient who knew what to do to avoid DVT in the future.
Terry's commitment to learning about DVT risk management expanded into raising awareness
among others. And in my own advocacy work for DVT awareness, I firmly share his
commitment. Through the Coalition to Prevent DVT, I've worked to increase awareness
and establish policy to protect people from this serious condition. I am passionate
about communicating to patients, healthcare professionals, advocates and policymakers
that if we all work together, we can fight DVT. We are all on the same team—and
we all need to share information so that patients and practitioners alike understand
the risks for DVT.
As a physician and vascular expert, I know that each person who learns about his
or her risk factors for DVT is one more person who may be spared from an experience
such as Terry's. Although fighting DVT is not a game, it is, in fact, an endgame.
And I say: Game on!