Sports journalist Grant Wahl died of an aortic aneurysm at the World Cup, according to his wife CNN


His wife, Dr. Celine Gunder, said on Wednesday that Grant Wahl, the American soccer reporter who collapsed and died while covering the World Cup in Qatar last week, had died of a ruptured aorta.

“It’s just one of these things that has probably been brewing for years, and for whatever reason it happened at this time,” Gunder said on “CBS Mornings.”

In a longer statement, Gonder said that an autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office concluded he died from a “slow-growing, undetected ascending aortic aneurysm with blood in the heart.”

Chest compressions he experienced shortly before his death may have been the initial symptoms. “No amount of CPR or shocks would save him,” she said.

Wahl, a longtime college basketball and football reporter for Sports Illustrated and for his newsletter, collapsed while covering the Argentina-Netherlands game on Friday and was later announced dead. He was 49 years old.

He’s covered soccer for more than two decades, including 11 World Cups — six men’s and five women’s — and has written several books on the sport, according to his website.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said his body was returned to the United States on Monday for an autopsy.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an aortic aneurysm is a balloon-like bulge in the aorta — the large artery that carries blood from the heart to the chest. A rupture occurs when the force of the blood’s pumping causes the layers of the artery wall to split, allowing blood to leak out. In the event of a rupture, the aneurysm will burst completely, causing bleeding inside the body.

Aortic aneurysms, or dissections, caused 10,000 deaths in 2019, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 59% of those deaths were among men.

CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, said aortic aneurysms are generally rare and difficult to detect.

“It’s very difficult to screen for this kind of problem,” he said. “This is likely something that’s been around for some time but doesn’t cause many symptoms.”

In the days leading up to his death, Wahl said he was feeling fine.

“It got really bad in terms of my chest tightness and tightness and pressure,” Chris Whittingham said on an episode of the podcast Football with Grant Wahl published days before he died. He added that he had sought help at the World Cup Media Center clinic, thinking he had bronchitis.

He further described the incident in a December 5 newsletter, writing that his body had “crumbled” after his lack of sleep, extreme stress, and heavy workload. He had a cold for 10 days, which “turned into something more serious,” he wrote, adding that he felt better after receiving antibiotics and catch-up sleep.

In her interview with CBS, Gaunder said the tribute to her late husband is touching and comforting.

It was so beloved by so many people, and hearing the flow “is like a warm hug when you really need it,” she said.

She said she knew something was wrong last week when she started seeing messages from a friend who said Wahl had collapsed and that medical staff attempted 20 minutes of CPR. She tried to track down someone in the hospital in Qatar to find out more and kept asking if he had a pulse.

“No one will answer the question,” she said. “I was scared.”

She also said that she had gone to see her late husband’s body; She said, “I just need to see.”

She said, “Honestly, that was so surreal… Even now that I’ve seen the body, it’s really hard to believe it’s real, but I just needed to.”

Although she wasn’t a big fan of sports, she told Wahl, “Football was more than just a sport, it was this thing that connected people all over the world.”

“There is so much about culture and politics of sport and football. For him it was a way to really understand people and where they come from.” “I want people to remember him as this kind, generous person who was really dedicated to social justice.”

She recalled how her husband promoted the women’s game, and recent statements he made about LGBT rights. “That was Grant,” she said.

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