Saskatchewan

Cupar, Sask., man dies of blood clot days after breaking foot

A Cupar, Sask., man has died of a blood clot after breaking his foot, and his widow is warning people to "trust your gut" and get more tests if something doesn't seem right.

Medical expert says deep vein thrombosis deadly but treatable

Michael Pletz, left, died after developing a blood clot after breaking his foot. (Submitted by Sharon Pletz)

When Michael Pletz broke his foot in April, his wife Sharon initially thought little was wrong.

The Cupar, Sask., man was building a swing set for his kids in the backyard. His ladder slipped on some gravel and his foot got caught in the rungs, breaking it.

He was taken to hospital and his leg was put in a cast.

However, five days later, he started feeling pain in his calf.

His chiropractor thought it was muscle pain related to the break. But the pain kept getting worse, shifting from the left side of his body to his right.

He started developing pain in his back and ribs.

Suddenly, he collapsed in his home and died. He was killed by a blood clot that had developed as a result of his injuries.

"He was young and a healthy individual," said Sharon. "It's something that's really uncommon but we've learned now that these things do happen."

Dr. Brian Goldman says deep vein thrombosis is treatable. (CBC)

Dr. Brian Goldman, emergency room doctor and host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art, said that Pletz likely died from deep vein thrombosis. It's a condition where a blood clot develops in the leg, breaks loose and blocks blood flow to the person's lungs.

"Because we see acute urgent problems in the emergency department, we're primed to be worried about blood clots," said Goldman. 

Goldman said blood clots can form in an injury like a broken foot. The situation can get worse when the person's leg is put in a cast, making it more likely for clots to grow.

Michael Pletz was building a swing set for his kids in the backyard. His ladder slipped on some gravel and his foot got caught in the rungs, breaking it. He was taken to hospital and his leg was put in a cast. However, five days later, he started feeling pain in his calf and later died of a blood clot. Garth Materie spoke to both his wife, Sharon Pletz and CBC's Dr. Brian Goldman about what could have been done to prevent Michael's death. 18:49

Ultimately, he said, it appears to have been a preventable death.

"It could have been found and he could have been put on blood thinners," he said. "There was still time to to diagnose the pulmonary embolism that ultimately was the cause of his death."

The doctor said people with blood-clotting disorders can be at greater risk of deep vein thrombosis. As well, people sitting for lengthy periods, such as during plane or car trips, can also be at increased risk.

While Sharon Pletz was never warned about the risk of blood clots by any medical personnel, she said she's not angry about what happened.

"It can happen to anyone," she said. "And trust your gut if you don't think that something's right.... If you want more tests done or something else, ask to check things." 

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