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Sport Kato Ottio's death questioned after PNG rugby league star collapsed during training with 'possible heat stroke'

06:51  12 january  2018
06:51  12 january  2018 Source:   msn.com

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One of the hospitals which treated him after the 23-year-old collapsed during a run at training said it was likely he suffered from severe heat stroke.

But many in PNG have questioned how a young, elite athlete who had played at the highest level for his country at last year's rugby league World Cup, could die so suddenly.

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Ottio then took up rugby league exclusively, playing at an amateur level for the Dobo Warrior. Ottio collapsed due to heat stroke while training alongside the Papua New Guinea Hunters on 7 January 2018, and died in the early hours of 9 January suffering from internal bleeding

Ottio's death sent shockwaves across rugby league-mad Papua New Guinea and left his former teammates devastated.

He is being farewelled at a funeral in PNG's capital Port Moresby today.

Ottio spent the past two seasons with the Canberra Raiders, and was due to fly to the UK this week to join the Widnes Vikings.

But coach Michael Marum, who described Ottio as one of the "best players in the country", told local media Ottio wanted extra training before leaving Port Moresby.

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David Mead and Kato Ottio relax during the World Cup. © PNG Rugby League . "He collapsed and was taken up to the hospital, but they couldn't help him.

"He made a call to me Sunday, 'coach, what are the boys doing? Can I do some training'," Marum said.

"He turned up and made arrangements with his old Kumul (PNG's national team) playmates."

Marum said he found out later he had been taken to hospital.

'Possible severe heat stroke'

At 1pm he was taken to a suburban Port Moresby health clinic, which said it would not speak publicly on its treatment of Ottio until Monday.

It was another five hours before he was taken to a much better-equipped facility, the Pacific International Hospital.

A statement released by the Pacific International Hospital said Ottio arrived "in a critically ill condition which appeared to be complications of a possible severe heat stroke".

Associate Professor Shane Brun, a sports medicine expert at James Cook University, described heat stroke as a rise in the body's core temperature causing the body the shut down.

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Kato Ottio starred for Papua New Guinea during last year' s Rugby League World Cup. Heat stroke is being cited as a possible cause for the death of Papua New Guinea league star Kato Ottio . The 23-year-old centre, who was due to join English club Widnes, collapsed and died earlier this

A normal core temperature is about 37 degrees Celsius.

"Once it gets above 40 degrees … the body can no longer sweat, the temperature increases and the organs get drastically affected and shut down and no longer operate correctly," Associate Professor Brun said.

"Unless you get immediate expert medical care, it's often very, very difficult to save someone in that situation."

Mr Brun, who spent some time in PNG working with FIFA, said a heat stroke victim can become delirious or unconscious within minutes and other neurological symptoms set in.

Calls for heat policy

Although heat stroke can be fatal, Mr Brun said Ottio's death was unusual considering the athlete's young age and fitness level.

"Most likely there's probably things going on there, either him having an illness or not listening to his body," he said.

"If you read the report, in the run back he had started to fatigue, he started to slow down, he became quite lethargic.

"They're the warning signs that really needed to be listened to."

Ottio's death happened the same week England's cricket captain Joe Root was hospitalised for dehydration, prompting calls in Australia for cricket to introduce a heat policy.

Mr Brun said not having a universal policy for all sporting codes can be an issue, but he said Ottio's death highlighted the need for such policies to be in place for training as well.

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