A Treating Doctor’s False Narrative: The Death Of A Patient With Prior COVID-19 Infection, Following Vaccination.
Two weeks ago, tragic news of a 36 year old’s death from a COVID-19 related disease rippled through the press.
The deceased was a 36 year orthopedic surgeon from Memphis, TN. He was a graduate of Harvard College. He attended medical school at the University of Tennessee and went on to complete his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Utah. From a purely professional perspective, his death at 36 years old was an immeasurable loss. One can’t even begin to measure the magnitude of the personal loss to his family, friends and loved ones.
According to news reports, this doctor was recently married in December 2020 — only a few short months prior to this writing.
After Memphis doctor dies from COVID-related illness, his family seeks to set the record straight
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Mid-South doctor has died of a COVID-related illness. However, he never knew he had the virus and…
As someone whose own loved one, not so different from this surgeon, died prematurely from an unsuspected catastrophe at a young age, I recognize the depth of this tragedy and loss. My heart goes out to his family and I pray for their healing — though I know it is a long process.
The family’s courage in publicizing his death is admirable. Because, I know that they have recognized that his senseless passing must serve to protect other lives. Again, I understand this desire deeply from my own family’s experience with my wife’s premature and senseless death in 2017.
But I write here, to reveal a public lie, because I must. And because as a physician-immunologist and a patient advocate I am simply shocked by the false narrative portrayed in the press by this unfortunate deceased man’s physician: Dr. Stephen Threlkeld.
Let me clearly and concisely explain why I think Dr. Threlkeld is obfuscating the forensic picture.
Dr. Threlkeld has stated on the public record that his patient’s death was due to a “delayed immune response” to a prior COVID-19 infection, which evolved into a fatal “multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS)”.
Dr. Threlkeld clearly states on the record that his patient had a prior asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. He also states that the systemic inflammatory response that killed the man started AFTER he was vaccinated.
But, instead of admitting that the death of his patient was triggered following his COVID-19 vaccination, in the setting of a prior infection, he obfuscates and chooses to play the politics of the moment. Of course, this is my opinion of how he presents the case to the press.
In other words, Dr. Threlkeld is so committed to the need-for-speed in vaccinating the entire population, he is unwilling to directing speak the truth about what triggered his patient’s catastrophic illness and death. He has willfully chosen to ignore the reality that indiscriminate COVID-19 vaccination of a recently infected person under his care was very likely the cause of his demise. I believe that this is an act of irresponsibility to public health, on the part of a physician.
Not only does Dr. Threlkeld’s narrative appear incomplete and disingenuous towards the unfortunate deceased patient’s family, it also risks putting others with prior COVID-19 infections, being vaccinated without circumspection, daily across the nation, in harm’s way — because the narrative portrayed for the press and the public is disingenuously imbalanced and untruthful.
To be clear, I completely agree with Dr. Threlkeld that had his patient been immunized earlier, he would have been unlikely to acquire the natural SARS-CoV-2 infection that contributed to his death. But, I find Dr. Threlkeld on dangerously thin ice, ethically, when he refuses to directly admit that: BECAUSE his patient had a prior recent natural infection, the vaccine is highly likely to have triggered his illness and tragic death.
Let me be clear, this young man was otherwise healthy and asymptomatic at the time of his vaccination — but he DID have a recent prior asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. And this dangerous timing (i.e., a natural infection PRIOR to his vaccination) was the most likely cause of his severe illness and death.
I can understand why Dr. Threlkeld is trying to contort the narrative to make an argument for broad scale vaccination to create herd immunity in America — I agree with this argument from an epidemiological perspective, and it is the prevailing political and public health narrative of the day. For my critics’ record, I do not disagree that we need to achieve herd immunity through efficient (and safe) population level vaccination. But I do not understand Dr. Threlkeld’s ethical compass when it comes to the forensic analysis of a very specific patient’s catastrophic death, which is very clearly pointing to the need for avoiding indiscriminate vaccination of the previously infected. Individuals like Dr. J. Barton Williams.
After all, in American medicine, we can achieve “majority benefit”, while at the same time preventing avoidable iatrogenic “minority harm”. In the case of this deceased surgeon, he was already immune to COVID-19 from his natural infection. He had natural antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in his blood, according to reporting in the public domain. So, really, there was and is no justification to have indiscriminately vaccinated this young man or any persons like him, with prior COVID-19 infections. To do so is simply a recipe for an avoidable disaster in a minority subset of people like the tragically deceased Memphis surgeon — not to mention, indiscriminate vaccination of recently or concurrently infected persons is considered a breach of standard of care by most reasonable physicians.
I can only hope that this young man’s family and loved ones are able to see Dr. Threlkeld’s rhetorical twist with clarity — I do believe that it is a suspect and unforgivable distortion. I also hope that they seek legal advice and guidance against the vaccine manufacturers. Because as of this writing there are nearly 30 million other Americans just like their deceased loved one, with recent COVID-19 infections, who are going to be candidates for indiscriminate vaccination. This family’s tragedy ought to serve to protect these other persons in iatrogenic harm’s way. The dangerously incomplete narrative pushed by Dr. Threlkeld is, in my opinion, a disgrace — not only to the integrity of the medical profession but to the memory of this deceased man, whose death almost certainly resulted from being vaccinated AFTER a prior asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The family of this young man should know that starting in December of 2020, I had formally warned FDA, CDC, Pfizer and Moderna of the likely danger of indiscriminately vaccinating recently infected persons. The written record to the FDA and to these corporations’ leaders is extensive and goes all the way up the chain of corporate and regulatory command. My message to the Williams family, whose loss I profoundly grasp to my very core, is this: I hope you can see that your loved one’s loss, can serve to protect others just like himself (i.e., previously infected), in likely iatrogenic harm’s way.
There is nothing worse than physicians and public health officials, who in the face of iatrogenic harm to minority subsets of patients, choose to use the “majority benefit” argument to sugarcoat and to lie so as not to rock the boat or compromise the economic flow of a large scale practice. I lost my wife to exactly such thinking — and I recognize it, on sight.
I wish Dr. Threlkeld could muster up the ethical courage to correct and complete the public record: That his patient’s critical illness was triggered by his vaccination, in the setting of a prior asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.
Dr. Threlkeld, we can ensure majority benefit from population level vaccination, but also ensure that indiscriminate vaccination of the previously infected stops in United States— so that no others are harmed as was your 36 year old surgeon from Memphis, TN.
But, it is likely that my wish is too tall an order in an American profession that is increasingly dishonest and dishonorable — a profession I love.