Raniya Wright’s autopsy released: birth defect caused death, not school fight

Colleton County News

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCBD) – The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office has released the autopsy report for RaNiya Wright, a 5th-grade student who died after a fight at Forest Hills Elementary School.

The autopsy was conducted at MUSC on March 29th. In the report, doctors say RaNiya died of natural causes.

Although she was involved in a brief classroom fight prior to being airlifted to MUSC, according to the autopsy, she had no external or internal traumatic injuries. Doctors say the brief fight had nothing to do with her death. Instead, it was a pre-existin condition she had since birth known as Arterio-Venus Vascular Malformation or AVM.

Count on 2 spoke with a neurologist, Jessica Hannah at Roper St. Francis who broke down that condition an MUSC pathologist said caused the 10-year-old’s death.

“If you have one of these AVMs in the cerebellar area – or the back part of your brain –  and it bleeds, it’s a very dangerous area for a bleed to occur,” said Dr. Jessica Hannah. “The reason for that is there is not a lot of room for swelling. If you can imagine, your skull is a very thick space, so if something bleeds it has nowhere to go, the skull is holding it in.”

She said what ends up happening is the brain and the blood will swell to the point where it causes you to die. 

The autopsy report says, “In light of the historical information and the toxicological, gross and microscopic autopsy findings, it is in the opinion of the pathologist that the decendent died as a result of acute intracranial hemorrhage due to a ruptured cerebellar anrterio-venous vascular malformation.”

Dr. Hannah broke that down and said that basically means Raniya died from a sudden uncontrolled bleed within the back of her skull from AVM. 

Headaches are a common symptom of AVM, according to Dr. Hannah. She also says being that headaches are so common, AVM’s are hard to detect. 

“It’s tough because most patients with AVM’s aren’t going to have symptoms,” Hannah said. ” If they have a syptom it’s going to be a headache or a seizure, but headaches are very very common.” 

She said it would be up to a doctor to order some form of head scan to see that the headaches are causing AVM. 

“Unless a patient has a headache that the doctor for some reason says is atypical enough that we need to do a head image, that’s the only way you’re going to find out that the headache is from AVM’s.” 

According to medical reports News 2 received a few weeks ago, Raniya went to the doctor seven times in the last two years complaining of headaches. Howeever, no head scans were ordered according to the reports. Dr. Hannah said a head scan would have been the only way to detect Raniya’s condition. 

Doctors say AVMs are often detected in children. 

“They are almost always form congenitally, so in the womb when we are developing it’s an abnormal congential thing,” Hannah said. “It’s about one percent of the population but it does tend to be most commonly found in children and the reason for that is they can bleed about four percent of the time a year.” 

Hannah said the older someone gets the more likely they are to have found the AVMs from the constant bleeds. She suggests that if someone has headaches to talk to their doctor. 

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