Friday, October 30, 2020

Rugby player passes away from severe infection

As another spring semester ended in 2018, Plattsburgh State student Jason Concepcion returned to his home in the Bronx, finishing his sophomore year of college. A little over a month later, he passed away on June 22, 2018, following complications from a dental procedure.

The Bronx Times reported that Concepcion had his wisdom teeth removed in May. He fell ill soon after and was admitted to Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

Doctors believed he contracted a rare blood disease called hemophagocytic lymphohist­iocytosis, or HLH, caused by the overproduction of certain white blood cells, which leads to organ damage and the quick formation of tumors, according to the Histiocytosis Association.

They theorized that the disease caused a severe infection that weakened his immune system; however, after Jason’s passing, the HLH test results came back negative.

Irene Guanill, Jason’s mother, said a contraction of mono and a severe infection to the procedure was the cause of her son’s sudden sickness.

“He was such an easy person to get along with, and it’s just a huge shock to the whole team when we found out,” Rugby president Chuck Gordon said about his former teammate. “I had just spoken to him a day before or so that classes had ended and it’s shocking [to think] that that would be the last time I talked to him.”

Guanill said Jason was committed to health and fitness, loved his family and friends and was always kind and inclusive to others.

“Things never mattered as much as people,” she said. “Jason was the voice of reason to many friends both at school and at home.”

On track to earn a psychology degree from PSUC, Concepcion also passed the New York City Fire Department exam in February. Guanill said he would have entered the academy upon graduation from college, a psychologist and a firefighter at the same time.

Concepcion also played on PSUC’s men’s rugby team. Coach Sean Morgan said Jason was up in the running in being one of their captains this year.

“He was a player that rugby coaches dream about,” Morgan said. “He played 10 of the 15 positions and never complained. He was laid back in the way he practiced, but a player on mission, and you did not want to get in his way.”

The team has decided to retire Jason’s number (4) for the season, and their home game on Oct. 5 against Hamilton College will be dedicated in his honor.

Guanill also created a Facebook group called #DoItForJason, where she encourages anyone who knew Jason to join, leave positive messages and their favorite memories of her youngest son. He would have celebrated his twenty-first birthday on Sept. 17 of this year.

“Jason was my inspiration for all the positive things I do in and around our community,” she wrote on the group’s Facebook wall. “I am sure he would want all to continue to be happy.  He was always happy and did all he could to share that happiness.”


Email Emma Vallelunga at

1 Comment

  1. What a beautiful tribute to such an amazing young man. Jason was a ray of light that shined brightly. A true Angel here on Earth and now in Heaven 💙

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