Christopher’s Story

Learn How Myocarditis Took the Life of a Young College Student

Christopher’s Family is Now Dedicated to Myocarditis Awareness

Christopher's StoryHe never treated anyone differently. Everyone was a friend. He taught me that the sky’s the limit, rules are meant to be broken, and to be open minded. Sarcastic and he could insult you without you even knowing you had been insulted but it was all in fun. He enjoyed life and he had fun, he loved being around people but was just as comfortable being by himself. This is what Christophers friends said when I asked them to describe him.

I saw him as my little boy, the one who loved to build, draw, read, playing and listening to music, skiing, golfing and a huge thirst for knowledge. He could debate any subject; politics, religion, classic rock, environmental issues, or architecture, he loved it all. He studied environmental law at Westminster College for one year but decided he didnt want to be a lawyer, he said too many rules he wanted to use his creativity and pursue a degree in his first love, architecture. So he transferred to Utah State University in August 2009. On October 15, 2009 he flew to Oregon with his dad to look at schools, he wanted to start with a civil engineering degree and then pursue a degree in architecture with an emphasis in sustainable architecture. They returned home on October 18th.

Christopher had always been healthy; if he got a bug it was usually gone within a day or two. He was very active in sports. His doctor visits were mainly well check ups and no issues had ever come up. He had his childhood vaccines, they were delayed but he did receive them but he never had a flu vaccine. We had discussed the regular flu vaccine and 2009 H1N1 vaccine. He wanted my opinion, I told him to not worry about the regular flu vaccine since he had never had a problem with cold or flu bugs. We were both unsure about the H1N1 vaccine, he was right in the age group that was most susceptible, college student, campus living and around a lot of people, I left it up to him.

On October 19th he called to say he had decided to get the vaccine and went to the local health department. He received the H1N1 Flumist vaccine. On November 4th he sent a message to his girlfriend that he felt like crap but the next day he sent another message that he felt a lot better just a little sore throat. He commented one time to me that he felt tired but he thought it was from staying up late and studying, (or playing games or his guitar).

November 19th, he spent the evening with his friends, talked to his dad around 10pm about their plans to ski over Thanksgiving weekend and talked to his girlfriend on Skype until about 3am. One friend tried to convince him to stay up and watch a movie but he said he was tired and was going to bed.

November 20th, he was supposed to pick his girlfriend up at the Frontrunner station and when he didnt show up and she couldnt reach him she called one of his friends who called me. I called his roommate who found him. He has passed away in his sleep, that was the day my world stopped.

We spoke with the medical examiner about his medical history several times over the next two months looking for a cause; the only thing that was out of the ordinary was the vaccine. She called us on February 10th to say she thought it would be unknown but they were going to do one more test on his heart. (I remember the date Christophers birthday is February 11th). We finally received the autopsy results mid February 2010, Viral Myocarditis, the medical examiner said it was the flu he had in October. I reminded her he had not had the flu it was the vaccine he had in October. I asked her to check for something in the vaccine she said it had been too long and they would be unable to isolate it down that far.

The thing that sticks in my mind is when I was told by someone from The United States Health Resources and Services Administration that the vaccine cannot cause the flu but may cause flu-like symptoms while the immune system is reacting to the vaccine. Flu-like symptoms are a common symptom of Myocarditis. I hear about so many young healthy people passing away from unknown causes and I wonder how many of these unknowns are actually Myocarditis. I also hear about young healthy people collapsing from an undetected heart condition, is this undetected condition Myocarditis? So many questions and not enough answers. We not only need to find a cure but a cause and raise awareness as well.

In Christophers case I think it was the vaccine that triggered the Myocarditis but I think there may be several factors that are the cause, so in the meantime we need to raise awareness not only with the medical field but also in the public to know the signs. I wouldnt wish this on anyone, he was my little boy.