Medical examiner’s office attributes MMA fighter’s death to kidney failure

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office has determined that Aberdeen kick boxer Jameston Lee-Yaw, 47, died of renal failure following a mixed martial arts fight Saturday night at Aberdeen’s SouthShore Mall.

He was initially taken to Grays Harbor Community Hospital after the fight, then transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he died Monday.

He was competing in an event billed as the “Brawl at the Mall” when he collapsed in the ring and was carried by teammates to a dressing room, said Jameston’s ex-wife Linda Lee-Yaw, who was at the fight.

She said that during the match a referee twice asked Jameston if he was going to “tap out,” meaning to tap the mat or the opponent to signal he was conceding defeat, and each time Jameston responded by waving his arm in the air. After being taken to the dressing room by teammates, it was discovered that the fighter was having trouble breathing. Aberdeen Fire Department paramedics were called and he was taken to Community Hospital.

Twin Dragons Center Mixed Martial Arts, which has training facilities at the mall and a training facility license from the state to host MMA events, put on the event. Head instructor Scott Bean said Lee-Yaw “passed his pre-fight check with flying colors,” adding that any kidney problems prior to the fight were undetectable.

Jerome Lee-Yaw, Jameston’s brother, said he did not believe Jameston’s death was a result of the fight, but as far as he knew, his brother was healthy.

“It’s a shock to everybody; we never saw this coming,” he said. “We’re trying to come to terms to it.”

Yee-Law’s ex-wife said she was not aware of Jameston having problems with his kidneys.

“When I’ve taken him to the hospital before, they’ve never said anything about kidney conditions,” she said. “… It happened so fast. Nothing was wrong before (the fight).”

Jerome and his brother moved to the United States from Trinidad more than 20 years ago. Linda Yee-Law, who had been married to Jameston for 17 years before they divorced last September, said the couple has two children.

Amateur bouts that take place with a training facility are not required to have medical staff on hand at events and leave the training facility and its staff responsible for the health and safety of participants.

Brad Benfield of the state Department of Licensing said that as a matter of protocol, someone from the department will meet with Twin Dragon employees to inquire about the incident.