Ian Powis, an 18-year-old senior at Pottersville High School in Michigan, was forced to prematurely end his football career after learning he had Factor V Leiden (FVL), an inherited coagulation disorder which can cause frequent and potentially dangerous blood clots. Because FVL carriers have a predisposition to excessive clots (thrombophilia), Ian’s doctor advised that the physical strain he was experiencing as an offensive lineman was unsafe and would only further increase his risk for clotting problems. Although disappointed that he could not finish the season and extend his football career in college, he opted to stay in the sporting world by becoming a cheerleader.
Ian has put a decidedly positive spin on the chain of events that led him to this alternative activity. “It just started to become fun. I could see the competitive side of the cheerleading,” said Powis. He added, “if I didn’t get the blood clots, I wouldn’t be cheerleading and I’d be missing out on a really good experience.” Ian later recruited two former teammates to join him on the basketball cheering squad this winter and the team went on to win a pair of cheerleading competitions. At 6’2”, 270 pounds, Ian is a reassuring presence on his team, as he prepares to catch acrobatic cheerleaders during a routine. “It’s a big security blanket to know Ian Powis is standing underneath and is going to catch them. Ian puts them down gently. He’s just like a big teddy bear” said cheerleading coach Susie Johnson.
Individuals with FVL or those in other designated thrombophilia risk factor categories such as pregnancy, cancer, immobilization, obesity and use of medications including birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, typically experience clots in the lower extremities. These clots, which can occur in the legs, thighs or hip area, are called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVTs often lead to swelling and pain. A clot that partially or completely breaks free, may travel through the bloodstream and lodge in a lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE). PE is a very serious DVT-related complication that can result in damage to the lungs and other organs, and often death. FVL is the most common form of inherited thrombophilia affecting approximately 5-7 % of the Caucasian population of European descent in the U.S.
Source: Lansing State Journal, February 19, 2006