Who Was Jennifer Luft?

The National Blood Clot Alliance established the Jennifer Luft Emerging VTE Clinician Research Award in 2023, given annually to an early-career blood clot clinician.

Jennifer Luft was born in Amsterdam, NY on Nov. 26, 1989. She was Kathy and Rodney’s firstborn child and big sister to her brother Chris.

Jennifer loved music, dancing, sports, and her family. She was kind, sweet, intelligent, lovable, loved animals, and enjoyed being around friends and family.

She had a lifelong appreciation for music. In elementary school, she learned to play the flute and she went on to play for the Amsterdam High School march band as well as the Syracuse marching and concert bands.

Her mom and dad often took her to concerts, and her dad even sat through Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and more. Luckily for him, he was able to share his enjoyment of the Dave Matthews Band with Jennifer. In fact, one day he noticed that his Dave Matthews CDs were missing and overheard Jennifer listening to them. She loved the music so much that she went to Dave Matthews concerts were her friends, and then later with her dad, mom, and brother in her wheelchair.

When Jennifer was younger, she took dance lessons, and her dad fondly called her “our dancing princess.” She also enjoyed sports and played softball, basketball, and soccer. Soccer was her favorite and she continued with soccer for many years. She also was involved with the Brownies and Girl Scouts.

Jennifer attended Fulton Montgomery Community College for two years and then went on to attend Syracuse University, where she majored in psychology. Jennifer planned to work in child psychology and was debating whether to get her master’s or start working.

After her last semester at school, her dad picked her up and noticed something was wrong. She needed to sit down a lot and easily got winded. Her family had her visit her primary care doctor, but her doctor was on vacation through Christmas, so she saw someone else.

Despite having classic symptoms of a blood clot, this doctor thought she had an upper respiratory cold and sent her home with cold medication. The Luft family has since learned this is all too commonly missed in many patients, especially in young women. She didn’t get better, so they planned to take her back to her primary doctor the day after Christmas.

However, on Christmas morning, Jennifer became extremely ill and her family called paramedics. She had a cardiac arrest and was revived. They later learned this was caused by misdiagnosed blood clots and that all the symptoms were from blood clots. Subsequent testing showed that she had a genetic blood clotting disorder.

Unfortunately, the blood clots and related complications caused Jennifer to experience an anoxic brain injury due to lack of oxygen. Jennifer was left disabled, couldn’t walk or talk, and needed full-time care for nearly 10 years. Her family took excellent care of her and helped her continue to make the most of her life, including continuing to support her love of music, engaging with animals, and being a part of her community.

She sadly passed away on June 27, 2022. Her parents and brother Chris miss her every day.

The rest of the family underwent testing for genetic blood clotting disorders, and Chris tested positive for the same disorder. He will be vigilant, given his family history.

The Luft family is committed to raising awareness about blood clots, both in the medical community and among the general public, in honor of and in memory of Jennifer. 

For Chris and every person at risk, the Luft family hopes Jennifer’s memory will help raise awareness and save lives.

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