Doctor: Walker Wilbank's death unfortunate freak event

Published: Aug. 26, 2014 at 12:27 PM CDT
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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - A Jackson Prep football player hospitalized following Friday night's game has died.

According to Dr. Joe M Pressler, Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care at UMMC, Walker suffered cerebral edema secondary to exercise-associated hyponatremia.

Pressler says Walker's death was an "unfortunate freak event" revolving around the balance of sodium and water in the body. He says it had no reflection of being over or under hydrated.

Pressler says the sodium level in Walker's body went down so low that the water shifted from his blood to cells in his brain, causing swelling. His brain acted as a sponge, absorbing the fluid.

Walker was pronounced dead at 12:42 pm.

The Wilbanks family told physicians that they wanted to share Walker's story so other parents can be informed.

On Friday, Walker was transported to the hospital during the second half of the school's home football game against Oxford High School.

Jackson Prep Head of School Jason Walton confirms that Walker Wilbanks experienced cramping in one of his legs in the second half of football game. Team doctors said he was also vomiting and complaining of not feeling "like himself".

School officials said he was transported to the hospital by his family where he had a seizure in the emergency room.

In a letter to the Jackson Prep family, Walton said, "My heart is broken as I write this letter to you. I am reaching out to share we have been notified by the family of the passing of Walker Wilbanks. Since our home football game against Oxford High School, the singular focus of this community has been prayer. We have been on our knees in prayer individually, in prayer circles, at houses of worship and here on campus. We have been praying fervently for a miracle that the health and well-being of our beloved friend and student, Walker, would be restored..."

"...The number of friends we have seen over the last few days have been a testament to the loving, caring, and charismatic young man that blessed all our lives."

"Based on what I saw on the field he was always encouraging everybody, telling them you're doing a good job, if they messed up they just say that's alright we all make mistakes and stuff like that, he was just a really outstanding guy," said Will Osborne, a classmate and former manager for the Varsity football team. "We're all pulling together and we're just going to try to be together and support each other and it's going to be hard on us."

Everyone affected by Wilbanks' loss is leaning on their faith to get them through.

"Through his passing we got two new followers of Christ today and then we got three Saturday at the vigil," Osborne said.  "We're all going to see him in heaven one day."

Walker was a Junior at Jackson Prep. He was a member of the state championship football and baseball teams, and ran track for the school.

The Wilbanks family is requesting time to themselves for the rest of the day. There was a special prayer service at Jackson Prep, Monday night at 6pm.

The entire Jackson Prep community is devastated.

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