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Scott Winter, Herald Staff Writer

Jace Reed's mini-biography in the University of North Dakota hockey program starts with this comment "A big, strong defenseman."

In a preseason training exercise, hockey players rain in the 10-kilometer "Run the Red" road race Sept. 15. Reed collapsed from dehydration during the event.

Now, Reed is battling to recover from liver and kidney transplants, he underwent Sunday at Rochester (Minn.) Methodist Hospital. He's not in the clear, but he's apparently on the rise.

"So far as we know, its just a waiting game now," Jace's father, Harlan Reed of Grand Rapids, said Monday from the hospital. They said he was still in critical condition, but it was a better critical condition."

So, hockey is far removed from family concerns. But Reed's hockey-playing ability is at the root of the situation.

"The irony is that if Jace Reed wasn't such a good athlete, he wouldn't have been in that race in the first place," said Dr. Philip Marin of The United Hospital, who treated Reed until complications forced him to be taken to Rochester by air ambulance.

"He survived because he was an athlete with a great body and was 20 years old," Marin said. A 30-year-old might have survived, but it wouldn't have been easy. Forty years old is over the hill for this injury,"

The race

The high temperature on Sept. 15 was 74 degrees and the relative humidity was 100 percent. Marin says that the heat exhaustion Reed experienced is rare below 83 degrees.

Literally, Reed, a 6-foot-2, 203-pound junior from Grand Rapids, ran himself into the ground. He ran until he stopped sweating. He ran until collapsed.

"You stop sweating because you run out of fluids," Marin said. Then your core temperature goes up like a nuclear reactor. It goes running wild."

Reeds body temperature was 105 when he was brought into United's emergency room. More importantly his blood pressure was way down and blood wasn't reaching organs. The body's injury mechanism was in shock and that created the damage in at least five major organ systems.

"It's like being hit by a truck. Once you're hit, you're down," Marin said. "It's like an explosion. It can be fatal. When you get to that point, basically, you're just picking up the pieces.

Picking up pieces

Working with Dr. Anthony Chu and Dr. Wayne Breitwieser, Marin immediately filled Reed with fluids and watched. And watched, And watched. Due to the severity of the situation, assessing the damage took days.

"We thought he was in a plateau, where we hoped he would get better," Marin said. "We really thought we had a chance with him."

But improvement didn't come with time. Something else needed to be done.

Reed was sent to Rochester Friday, Kidney and liver transplants were performed Sunday morning. Another surgery was done Sunday, according to Reed's sister, Lisa. Jace was tentatively expected to wake up some time this morning, which will end roughly 50 hours of unconsciousness.

"He hasn't waken up yet," Harlan Reed said. "But he has responded -- he has some reflexes."

Again, the irony

Reed, a business major, was a spot player for the Sioux in 1990-91 -- appearing in 13 games at either defense or wing. But he was making his move in this fall's dryland training.

"It's a paradox because Jace Reed was in the best condition that he has ever been in," Sioux hockey coach Gino Gasparini said in UND release.

This has been a very shocking situation for his family, his teammates and certainly for all of us within the UND hockey family. I think that when a situation like this occurs, it puts our whole business into perspective."

Reed's perspective on hockey won't be known for some time.

Letters and cards

Cards or letters can be addressed to:

Jace Reed c/o Methodist Hospital 2-1 West Center Street Rochester, MN 559020

Source: Grand Forks Herald, October 8, 1991