Patriots’ Calvin Anderson Was Given 50% Chance to Live After Contracting Malaria Last Year

After going to the hospital, doctors told Anderson's wife that 'if [she] brought him a few hours later, he literally would have died'

<p>Chris Unger/Getty</p> Calvin Anderson

Chris Unger/Getty

Calvin Anderson

New England Patriots player Calvin Anderson is lucky to be alive after a life-threatening battle with malaria.

The NFL player, 28, revealed in an interview with the Boston Globe that he unknowingly contracted the disease in Africa last year — and was given a 50-50 chance of surviving it.

Anderson told the outlet he and his wife Sherée had flown to Nigeria to do some philanthropic work and when they got back to the states on July 22, 2023, Anderson developed a high fever of 104.5 degrees. This prompted his wife to take him to the hospital despite his reluctance to go.

Once they got there, Anderson noted that his body “wasn’t functioning normally” and he “almost passed out.” After running blood tests, doctors figured out that he had contracted malaria as a result of a mosquito bite.

<p>Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty</p> Calvin Anderson on the field in 2023

Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Calvin Anderson on the field in 2023

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The World Health Organization lists malaria as “a life-threatening disease spread to humans by some types of mosquitoes” that can include symptoms of “fever, chills and headache.” In extreme cases, it can lead to “fatigue, confusion, seizures and difficulty breathing.”

Anderson was kept in the emergency room at Newton-Wellesley Hospital where doctors laid out his odds of survival. His wife said, per the Globe, that doctors told her that "if [she] brought him a few hours later, he literally would have died."

“If left to my own devices, I might have decided to not prioritize my health in that moment,” Anderson told the outlet. “As football players, a lot of times we end up prioritizing a lot of things ahead of our health so we can continue to play.”

“But this was a case when I had someone in my corner who made a judgment call and had to veto me a little bit there. It ended up saving my life,” the athlete added, with the Globe reporting that specialists were eventually able to stabilize his condition and he was released from the hospital after four days.

As a result of him contracting the disease, Anderson was also placed on the non-football injury (NFI) during the beginning of the 2023 NFL football season. However, he was eventually activated again at the end of August and played five games, according to CBS News.

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However, at the beginning of November, he experienced another health scare when he was hit by a defensive teammate during practice. After the hit, he told the Globe that he felt “a chest pain that I had never felt before.”

“I sat down, and my heartbeat wouldn’t stop. It just kept going … boom-boom-boom-boom-boom. I’m sitting there, at rest, and my heartbeat is just going,” he recalled to the outlet. He said that doctors eventually determined that he had heart contusion — when the heart muscle is bruised — from a hit.

Dr. Gabriela M. Andujar Vazquez, an infectious disease specialist with Tufts Medical Center, told the Globe that his previous malaria diagnosis likely did not play a role in the new injury, explaining that “having heart conditions after a bout of malaria is rare.” She added, “It’s more likely to have complications in other organs before the heart.”

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Anderson was placed on injured reserve in early November and told the Globe that he had to sit and wait in order to get back to 100%. Despite the challenges, he shared on Instagram that he was more ready than ever to tackle the game this year.

“My story is intricate and dynamic, but most importantly it’s real. Thankfully God surrounded me with family, teammates, and genuine people to help me through it,” he wrote. “This isn’t a sob story, this is a triumph. This is the return.”

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