In Memory of Kyle Baca: His Blood Clot Story as Told by His Mother

Categories: Patient Stories

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kyleI am the mother of Kyle Baca, who at age 14 was the victim of a “massive bilateral pulmonary embolism” (PE) on the morning of October 30, 2010.  I knew Kyle was sick, but I thought it was an upper respiratory infection at the time.  He played football that season for his high school freshman team, ran track that summer, and participated in the Junior Olympic Regionals in Colorado.  Kyle was diagnosed with pneumonia/pleurisy the previous month by his primary care physician, who put him on steroids and antibiotics for pneumonia.  He got better, but still noticed that there were moments when he couldn’t catch his breath.  We both thought his breathlessness was due to getting over pneumonia and/or tough football practices.

He also noticed that his shins hurt during track season.  I thought his leg pain was because he was running more and changing his brand of track shoes many times.  The possibility of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) never crossed my mind.  Kyle woke up on Oct 30th at 8:30 am and said he “couldn’t breathe.”  He couldn’t stop coughing, his lips turned blue, and he couldn’t feel his arm.

He then collapsed in front of me.  I started CPR, and had no idea what was happening in my son’s chest.  Kyle and I were both fighting for his life. He was given adrenalin at the hospital 6 times in the 2.5 hour battle for his life, but they could not save him.

My son died at age 14.  The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with my son, nor did I.  I finally remembered that Kyle’s dad had been diagnosed with DVTs and had an inferior vena cava filter (IVF) to prevent PEs.  My worst nightmare as a parent came true.  I learned after Kyle’s death that he had Protein S deficiency, as does his father.

I didn’t realize in time that my son’s symptom were due to blood clots, probably starting from his first symptoms of shortness of breath, during the summer when he was running track, which was diagnosed as pneumonia.  Instead, blood clots were forming in him, making their way into my son’s lungs, and slowly killing him.  I didn’t know that the tendency to clot is hereditary and that blood clots in the lung mimic other illnesses such as pneumonia, upper respiratory infection, or pleurisy.

My nightmare taught me that it is wise to ask your child’s pediatrician whether testing is indicated when there is a history of blood clots in the birth family.  The massive PE wasn’t diagnosed until autopsy.  Kyle didn’t have any clots in his legs, but the pathologist who did his autopsy said the clots that blocked his lungs were massive and had developed in the area above his hip.

DVTs and PEs can go undiagnosed until autopsy, and although they are not common in children, they are still deadly.  I know I didn’t realize this until it happened to my son.  I have gotten through this whole nightmare with lots of prayers and lots of reading up on blood clotting disorders.  The one thing that stands out is that this disorder is a silent killer and survivors of PEs are lucky.  My lesson came at a huge cost in the death of my beloved son.

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Author: admin

13 Responses to "In Memory of Kyle Baca: His Blood Clot Story as Told by His Mother"

  1. Sharon
    Sharon Posted on July 22, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. Our son underwent reconstruction on his knee due to a football injury and 7 days post surgery threw a PE. The nurses in the ER that night saved his life. The doctors said the reason for the PE was the surgery. We were so very lucky. This event has changed everything and we are more conscious of PE/DVT as part of our daily lives. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Tommy
    Tommy Posted on October 8, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Mrs. Baca, I am one of the “Lucky ones” I am 35 years old, and was just diagnosed 3 weeks ago with PE.
    3 weeks ago I had moved a washing machine out of my basement on a Sunday , the next day I woke up I had sharp pains on left side of chest as well as bad back pain, I run/own my own Pest control company with no employees so rest was not an option for me, my wife who is a stay at home mother of our 3 beautiful kids Madison(10) Ashley(5) Austin(3).
    I rested 2 days and Wednesday every 10′ I walked I was out of breath!!! I worked (walked) all day like that…I thought that the muscle I pulled from moving washing machine was effecting my oxygen because I could not breath in deep, I went to chiropractor next day (Thursday) he did a chest X-ray and said I tore my pectoral muscle (left side) now it all made sense to me…shortness of breath and pain breathing…he adjusted me and I felt great but chest muscle still hurt.
    Well on Saturday I had no choice,money running low I HAD TO WORK!!!! Soo off I went symptoms of being shortness of breath getting worse by the hour, by 1p I was at a property, walked 50′ at a fast pace and dropped to the ground!!! I was panting but couldn’t get oxygen…no cell phone service in that area and no one home!!! I tried to relax and regained myself to my truck, tried to drive to hospital but 2 miles down road , I could not catch my breath…called 911….they saw my blood was elevated and did a ct scan with dye in my blood!!!
    They said they’ve never seen soo many pulmonary embolisms(clots) on 1 person before, that wasn’t news I thought I would hear!! They gave me lovanex shots in stomache immediately, I also had blood clots in my right leg….they said i might have a genetic clotting dis order..
    I thought I’d never see my kids again,my wife,my family, 35 years old 6’2″ and 255lbs and devastated….I have been on blood thinners for 3 weeks now (xeralto) and I have never felt this good in my life, my energy level is soo high that I work 12 hours a day, come home and walk with my kids a mile or two everyday, I also thank God for saving my life and now attend church every Sunday,I have stopped drinking coffee, soda and watch what I eat!!! Suddenly the small things in life mean soo much more to me, I am soo sorry that you lost your son at age 14:( , I hope you find solice in my story..GOD BLESS

  3. Pete
    Pete Posted on November 25, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Sorry for the loss of your son. Your story will definitely save someone else’s life. I have learned something new today about how precious life is.

    Yesterday a close friend of mine was diagnosed with blood clots in her lungs. A few years previously she was diagnosed with DVT in one of her legs. The problem was resolved. But last week she was bed ridden for 4-5 days as she was recovering from a flu like virus.

    When she returned to work the following week she noticed that she was short on breath after simply walking short distances. She went to the doctor and was immediately diagnosed with blood clots in her lungs after a CT scan. The doctors admitted her and place her on blood thinners.

    It’s hopeful that she will make a full recovery and that her early diagnosis will be key in saving her life.

    Thanks you for sharing your story about Kyle’s life and informing us about a the hidden dangers of DVT


  4. Elizabeth baca
    Elizabeth baca Posted on January 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you all for reading kyles story. I hope it will save at least one life. I am glad you all have a story to share. The more we get the word out the more lives we can save. Thank you all from kyles mom.

    • Tamesha
      Tamesha Posted on March 28, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      I will be in pray with you & your family. I lost my granny to DVT/PE just yesterday, 03/27/15 to be exact. I am still doing research to be more aware of this silent/ most times undiagnosed killer. Plz be in prayer with me & my family as well. Very much needed. As a matter of fact, lets all pray for each other regardless . Everybody needs it. If you have a FacEbooK page, feel free to join We Need Prayer (a page I have created) & remember… We’re not lucky, We’re blessed!

    • Wendy Tine
      Wendy Tine Posted on May 2, 2016 at 10:10 pm

      I just lost my 26 year old son from an embelisum .. His dad found him bent over and blood all over I .don’t understand he was so healthy . so sorry for your loss

  5. Tim Taylor
    Tim Taylor Posted on January 25, 2015 at 6:35 am

    I just lost my mother to PE on January 6th it has been devastating we miss her every day…It was out of nowhere took her to the hospital and she was gone in 2 hours…The doctors did everything they could it was something I’ll never forget it was rough watching them work on her trying to save her…. We love her and she’s watching over us.

  6. Ryan
    Ryan Posted on February 20, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you for posting this information regarding your son. I grieve for you and pray that God may help you through this difficult time. I too have had a pulmonary embolism, without any clotting dis-order. People need to be more aware of the danger of DVT and PE- that it can happen to those with blood disorders that are unknown, and also to those who are seemingly healthy. Like with your son’s illness, I played off my symptoms as simply a pulled muscle even though my Mom suggested to me that I get checked for DVT.

  7. Michelle
    Michelle Posted on March 4, 2015 at 12:43 am

    I’m currently battling the unknown. I have had one respiratory infection after the other over he last 3 or 4 months. Loads of antibiotics nothing helps for long. I started using essential oils and my lungs felt better my sinuses seemed to be clearing up. Then out of nowhere I get a high fever. I go home take meds and wake up in the middle of the night with extreme pain of my back and chest. It hurt to breath. I couldn’t get comfortable at all. I went to the doctor. She said I probably had pleurisy. Pain killers and antibiotics were given to me. 2 weeks later I’m still suffering pain all around my rib cage. Then I just happened to run across an article talking about blood clots and the symptoms other than fever fit my symptoms the same as pleurisy. Right now I’m feeling a little alarmed to say the least.

  8. Mark
    Mark Posted on April 1, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I am very sorry for you loss. Having to children of my own, I can only imagine what the loss of a child must be like. When I read your story it prompted me to share mine as well as it is very similar to that of your son’s, albeit with a happier outcome. On March 9 2015 I slipped on black ice in my driveway and caused a very brief dislocation of my knee cap. Went to the hospital for the pain and swelling. Went home afterwards and spent about 3-4 days resting afterwards. Then I woke up with a soreness in my right side, chest and back. By suppertime I was having a lot of pain breathing. Before going to the hospital I googled “knee injury and pain breathing” and immediately found pulmonary embolism as the most likely possibilty.

    Went to emergency, who send me for a chest x-ray and some blood tests. The doctor told me I tested positive for pneumonia and that I should take antibiotics and go home. Well I was not satisfied with that diagnosis having read up on the link between knee/hip injuries and PE. I am a 34 year old father of two and husband and I was not going to let them take chances with my life. My wife and I decided we would not let them discharge me without ruling out PE. The doctor grudgingly agreed to do a VQ scan and a CT scan the next day. Being so short of breath I was unable to hold my breath long enough to get a good result from the CT scan and so the doctor told me the results where inconclusive, that they were sure it was just pneumonia and to go home with antibiotics. I insisted they perform the CT scan again and they told me that would not be possible. They discharged me and sent me home. Well the following morning I started coughing up what appeared to be blood clots. My mother called an ambulance and they rushed me back to the hospital. At this point all the difficulties breathing was putting a lot of stress on my heart. Once at the hospital they rushed me in for another CT scan and this time they found multiple blood clots in both lungs (PE). They injected me for 2-3 days in my stomach with a blood thinner called heprin. They kept we for 10 days at the hospital on blood thinners, oxygen and IV antibiotics.

    I am now back home, still taking antibiotics, 6 months of Xarelto (blood thinner) and many follow-up appointments with doctor of infectious disease, family doctor, hematology, and many blood tests, x-rays, doppler and physiotherapy appointments to go. I am writting this in the hope that someone reads it and understands that something as simple as a slip on the ice (not even a fall) can be fatal and that you always need to second guess your doctor because things like PE get misdiagnosed as pneumonia a lot more often than one might think.

  9. Todd custer
    Todd custer Posted on May 4, 2015 at 4:46 am

    God bless you woman. My heart aches for you. Thank you for sharing this hardest of pains, it will save many lives. I know that your son loved you very much and vice versa. Life is so precious and most of us never think about that. I really hope that you can find some comfort in the midst of your pain. Know that you are loved and blessed. The hole in your life that his passing has caused will never be filled but I pray for you to find some sense of peace in your life.

  10. Eve
    Eve Posted on May 6, 2015 at 1:28 am

    I am going through what your son passed away from with my 13 year old having extensive damage from having a Massive blood clot that one hospital treated him with antibiotics, blood thinners, but did not remove it surgically until I had him flowed to another hospital which save his live by removing and treating it surgically. Yes, the damaged done could had been avoided if the first hospital acted accordingly. Am looking for a really good lawyer to see if damage for liability is deemed a case. If anyone know of a lawyer in the Ohio area please email me the information. My son still can not not walk and move his had as the result of the blood clots that damaged his veins where blood clot started to form in his left leg extending to the area around his lungs. Please help me if you can and God bless you with the loss of Kyle!

  11. Chelsea Sharie
    Chelsea Sharie Posted on September 17, 2016 at 1:58 am

    I couldn’t have said it better myself Todd …. I have a clotting disorder from my lupus and the doctor told me today that I may have pneumonia which means risk of clots and I seen your story and I got to reading it…. well no one has warned me of the risks my daughters have of having the same problem I and we’ll alot of us have…. and I just wanted you to know not only do I thank you and I know many others do as well…. but thank’s to your information and story I will be calling tomorrow to talk to our pediatrician to get all the info I can on how to protect my girls…. so thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing and informing all of us out here who’s doctors have been so worried about the problems at hand and/or the problems no one even knew about with their own patients that they forget to tell us the danger we could potentially pass on to our children and grandchildren!!!!!! I had a stroke out of know where at 26 years old…. well as year ago last week and the recovery has been difficult at times and made me feel bad that I can’t be there for me 3 and 10 year old daughters as much as I want to be…. but you have given me a chance to make up for that!!!! I really wish there was more I could do to thank you!!!! Because those words don’t begin to mean what I feel!!!!! I hope you and your family are doing well and I pray that peace has found you!!!! God Bless!!!!!!