Paul Englert Jr. “Leading by Example”

Paul was a happy, healthy, active 19 year old who, at the end of August 2013, began having problems breathing when he exerted himself. He was being treated for exercise-induced asthma and was given two inhalers. Paul had never had asthma in the past (he played many sports his entire life). Seasonal allergies were bad this time of year, after all, I had to use an inhaler when I exercised due to my seasonal allergies. So we didn’t think too much of this diagnosis and thought it was temporary.  When Paul still wasn’t any better a week after seeing his doctor, he returned for another visit. He came home with a steroid and a change in his inhaler, which is what we expected would happen. At this point we were concerned parents, but were comfortable with the treatment being provided. Everything made sense and Paul had no other symptoms. Paul awoke the morning after his second doctor visit and said, “I feel pretty good, mom. I think the medicine is working.” I was relieved. He sat down to breakfast before heading off to UB where he commuted each day (he was enrolled in their Civil Engineering Program). His dad and I gave him a kiss goodbye and told him to have a nice day (and, of course, reminded him to take his medication). That was the last time we saw our son alive.

At about 2:00 in the afternoon I received a phone call at work from another UB student that was with Paul who told me Paul was having an asthma attack and the EMT’s were helping him, but that I needed to get there and to hurry. By the time I arrived my son was already gone. They tried for a very long time to help Paul, but as we now know, there was nothing they could have done at that point. Paul suffered from a Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot in his lung) as a result of a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and his heart stopped instantly. We just could not imagine how our healthy, beautiful son could have developed this with no symptoms to indicate a blood clot was the problem. We have since discovered that blood clots are very common, however, they are very rare in an otherwise healthy 19 year old young man. Paul went to the gym several days a week with his buddies so if he had any pain or discomfort in his legs or calves (which is where clots usually begin), he probably attributed it to muscle soreness. This is what makes blood clots very difficult to detect in active young adults. He had not recently taken a long trip, nor had he had recent surgery—all contributing factors to blood clots. The last possibility was that Paul could have had a blood disorder that we were not aware of, however, they could not test him after-the-fact.

Paul was a happy teenager on the verge of turning 20. He was always smiling. His friends have said if they were having a bad day, Paul could turn that around for them without even knowing they were feeling down. He had a way of making everyone laugh. In addition to hanging out with his friends and playing sports, Paul also enjoyed woodworking and flying with his Uncle Jerry in a small plane.

Because of Paul’s participation in the Donate Life club while in high school, it sparked a conversation that no parent wants to have, much less have to act upon: organ donation. I have to say, I am grateful for that conversation because in the moment that decision had to be made, we knew, without a doubt, what Paul would have wanted. Paul was an organ donor. We have since become aware of several people Paul has helped due to his generosity – two of them were 18 year old boys.

We have lost our only child and are facing the rest of our lives without him. He was our whole life and our future. We will never see Paul graduate from college, get married and have children. We will never be grandparents. We have also lost what we thought our future would be. My husband lost his “buddy” and I lost my baby. “We love you forever, Paul!”

We would like to raise awareness about blood clots and the importance of having them detected immediately. Many people have other symptoms which lead to testing specifically for blood clots, although they are also often misdiagnosed. People need to be aware of those symptoms and even the minimal symptom such as the shortness of breath Paul had. People in the medical field also need to be aware to look for blood clots even when the typical symptoms do not present themselves. Information about blood clots can be found on the National Blood Clot Alliance website (stoptheclot.org).

Organ donation is also a generous way to give of oneself. There are many ways to help others through organ donation that we were just not aware of, besides the traditional major organs.

Paul attended St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute for high school and a memorial scholarship fund has been set up in his name. The scholarship will be awarded to an underclassman that exhibits qualities that Paul was known for: quiet leadership (he led by example), focused student, enthusiastic (lacrosse) athlete, dedicated, diligent, determined, filled with SJCI spirit, mentor and a brother.

Paul was a lacrosse goalie for many years and had an immense love for the game. St. Joe’s lacrosse had their first annual alumni lacrosse game in memory of Paul and it will continue to be held every year in December at Sahlen’s Sports Park. All the players wore jerseys displaying Team Englert and Paul’s lacrosse number, #23, as well as “Marauder Forever.”

When our heads clear, we would like to organize a walk in Paul’s memory on behalf of the National Blood Clot Alliance.

Paul and Denise Englert