Nick Sanders was one of those individuals that you could not forget. It wasn’t just that he was 6 feet 6 inches tall, had red hair and played football. He was also a fun loving son, brother, grandson as well as a loyal friend and colleague. On his 25th birthday, Nick was embarking on his career as a public accountant, after completing his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth, his Masters in Accounting at The Ohio State University, and he then passed all parts of the CPA exam on his first try. Two months later, Nick’s wonderful life was ended by a massive blood clot that lodged in his lungs.
Nick shouldn’t have died. When he was 23, his physicians diagnosed Nick with a blood clot in his right calf. Because these clots can be fatal if left untreated, Nick was hospitalized and began a six month course a powerful blood thinner called Coumadin to be monitored by his family doctor.
Nick was told that the clot was a onetime occurrence probably associated with inactivity while recovering from a bout of pneumonia. What he wasn’t told was that he had a clotting factor called Factor V Leiden which affects a small, but significant segment of the population. For six months, Nick went to his doctor as scheduled. His doctor checked and adjusted his Coumadin levels, but never told Nick that he was still at risk for developing a blood clot.
Less than one year after finishing his Coumadin, at 5:00 in the afternoon, Nick had trouble breathing, especially when climbing stairs. Not knowing that shortness of breath is a symptom of a pulmonary embolism, Nick drove to his parents’ house to relax. Thinking that his shortness of breath was due to asthma, Nick took a puff of an inhaler. At 8:30 p.m., sitting on his parents couch, Nick cried for help. His parents rushed in to see their son on the couch, his lips white and gasping for air. They called the squad immediately. It was too late. By the time Nick got to the hospital, he died from the pulmonary embolism.
We appeal to you today as a mother and a father who still grieve the loss of their son and parents who still believe that their son would still be alive today had he been given proper warnings from his healthcare provider. Little did we know that after that tragic day, we would not be able to tell him how proud we were of him and how much we loved him.
Nick’s story is one of too many we come into contact with at NBCA and it clearly demonstrates the need for a greater level of patient and physician education. Our family does not want to see what happened to our son happen to anyone else, which is why we support the life-saving mission of the NBCA to prevent and treat blood clots and clotting disorders through research, education support and advocacy!
Nick’s death emphasizes that blood clots occur in young healthy active people as well as the elderly. People of all ages need to be informed of both the signs and symptoms of blood clots and the need for immediate medical treatment.