South Side family works to educate, prevent pulmonary embolisms in honor of son

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A family on Chicago's South Side are focused, in their personal lives and business, on fitness and saving lives to keep other families from suffering the same tragedy caused by a pulmonary embolism.

Pulmonary embolisms kill more than 60,000 people each year.

LAB Nutrition and Fitness, owned and operated by the Martin family, is a fitness club and nutrition bar on 95th Street in the city's Beverly neighborhood.

Mike Martin is a former NFL player for the Cincinnati Bengals, his wife Michelle Martin is a former University of Illinois cheerleader and their daughter Morgan is also a University of Illinois cheerleader.

"When they walk in our doors they are family," Michelle said. "We want everyone to be healthy and pay attention to their bodies."

The only one missing from the energetic bunch is the youngest, Marcus Martin. He was a healthy 25-year-old when he passed out at work. He was hospitalized for shortness of breath and some tightness in his chest.

"He said, 'Love you man,' I said, 'Love you too, dude, talk with you tomorrow,' but that never happened," Mike said.

Marcus died of pulmonary embolism, also known as PE, in 2014.

"It was tough. That was a tough day," Michelle said.

"It was the first time I couldn't protect him or do anything," Morgan said.

They hadn't heard of PE, and many others haven't either.

The American Society of Hematology said a blood clot, often in the leg called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can form and then travel through blood vessels to the lungs, causing the life-threatening blockage of a pulmonary embolism.

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh was sidelined by blood clots, and tennis great Serena Williams was hospitalized for PE. Journalist David Bloom died in 2003 from PE.

"I'm telling everybody, if you ever feel like something is wrong, if your child is complaining about something, man, get it checked out or tomorrow may never come," Mike said.

The cause of PE can be hereditary, and it can occur in women after hormone replacement or pregnancy. It can also happen to anyone who has been sedentary from hospitalization or travel.

The Martins aren't exactly sure what contributed to Marcus' PE but he had just completed a long road trip and air travel. The family share what they now know about PE with clients and anyone they encounter.

"We have made it a mission to transform, and transform others' lives," Morgan said.

That message was heard by their cousin Kimberly Wicks.

"They did the ultrasound, they found out it was in my leg, and when they did the CT scan they found out it travelled to my lungs and my heart. I had four doctors to tell me I was lucky to be alive," Wicks said.

The symptoms of PE or DVT are lightheadedness, fainting, difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing up blood, and sudden or gradual pain in the arm or leg.

The Martins also started a Youth Fundamental Football Camp in Marcus' honor. The free camp will be in Chicago in 2020.
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