A 20-year-old college student has died from complications arising from COVID-19. Bethany Nesbitt of Grace College in Indiana had started exhibiting symptoms of the virus late in October. By the month’s end, she seemed to have recovered significantly — until she was unexpectedly found dead in her dorm room.
Battling the Symptoms
Bethany’s brother, sports journalist Stephen Nesbitt, shared her tragic story via Twitter on Tuesday, November 3. He said his sister had started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on the week of October 20. She was quickly tested for the virus on the 22nd; however, due to an unknown clerical error, she never received the results.
Our hearts are shattered. My sweet sister, Bethany, died as she slept in her dorm room Thursday night. She was 20. She was COVID-19 positive. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism—the result of a blood clot—widely recognized as a common cause of death in COVID-19 patients. pic.twitter.com/w6ky17Ra8v— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) November 3, 2020
In light of her symptoms, Grace College provided Bethany with a single dorm room as well as the assistance of campus medical personnel. Her mother was also on hand to help monitor her asthmatic daughter’s oxygen levels.
On October 26, a sudden drop in Bethany’s oxygen saturation prompted a visit to the emergency room. According to Bethany’s brother, a doctor there determined that Bethany likely had a non-severe case of COVID-19. However, as she appeared to be recovering, the doctor released Bethany and she returned to her dorm room.
By October 28, Bethany told her family that she had been fever-free for 24 hours, and that her oxygen levels were stabilizing. The next day, she took another COVID-19 test. However, she would never get the chance to see the results.
Bethany was found deceased in her bed the next morning, October 30. According to a coroner’s report, her death was “natural due to a pulmonary embolus that had not been previously detected,” referring to a blocked artery in the lungs. As her brother noted on Twitter, such blockages are a common cause of death in COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, the results of Bethany’s final COVID-19 test were positive.
While Koscisko County Coroner Tony Ciriello stopped short of naming COVID-19 as the cause of Bethany’s death, he said the illness did play a contributing role.
Remembering Bethany Nesbitt
“Bethany was the baby of our family, the youngest of nine,” her brother Stephen said on Twitter. “She loved Jesus. She loved memes. And she loved her family and friends until the very end.”
In a longer family statement, Stephen remembered his sister as someone “with a passion for helping others, especially children,” whose “sassy sense of humor and wonderful laugh put them at ease.”
Bethany was the baby of our family, the youngest of nine. She loved Jesus. She loved memes. And she loved her family and friends until the very end.— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) November 3, 2020
The following is a statement from our family. We are declining all interviews at this time. pic.twitter.com/XDsLXYZPlW
Stephen also urged others to exercise an abundance of caution in containing the spread of COVID-19.
“Please don’t assume that young people will not be impacted by the virus,” he wrote. “Bethany was careful. She wore her mask. She socially distanced. We urge you to follow health officials’ protocols and precautions. […] The risks of gathering in large groups aren’t worth it this year.”
A Campus Reels
Meanwhile, Grace College held a memorial gathering for Bethany on Friday following the news of her passing. Friends and faculty members remembered the psychology student fondly, including her resident director, Alicia Meyer.
“Bethany was incredibly sweet and remarkably thoughtful,” Meyer said. “She demonstrated intention when she asked questions and checked in with others. She was known to shout across the hall with friends and make others laugh.”
Grace College President Dr. Bill Katip pledged to support Bethany’s family in their time of mourning.
“We share a mutual trust in the Lord and dependency on His mercy and grace,” said Katip. “We will continue to support the Nesbitt family in any way possible as they process the tragic news and mourn the loss of their daughter.”
Bethany’s family has set up a fund in her memory “to provide scholarships to students with similar dreams and financial needs.” It has currently raised just over $20,000 of a $25,000 goal.
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