From tragedy to a life saving lesson: Raising blood clot awareness

CLARENCE CENTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – A local couple is working to save the lives of others in our community after experiencing pain few of us can imagine, the loss of their only child to a medical condition that had never really cross their minds to worry about.

19-year-old Paul Englert Jr. passed away on September 19, 2013, from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lung.

“It just came as a real shock because he was here one day and just gone the next,” said his mother, Denise Englert, who is now working with her husband Paul Englert Sr. to raise awareness and money for blood clot prevention.

paul englert jr photoDenise and Paul Englert Sr. say their son was a very healthy young man. He was a lifelong athlete and an ambitious student at UB, studying to become a civil engineer.

He showed almost no symptoms of the blood clot which took his life. “It just basically I guess came out of nowhere,” Paul Englert Sr. said.

LEARN MORE | Click here to find out more about the symptoms of life-threatening blood clots.

“He showed a few symptoms for a few weeks of just like trouble breathing,” Denise explained. “He went to the doctor, and the doctor thought he was starting to get asthma, which he didn’t have.”

The Englerts say they don’t blame the doctor for missing the diagnosis. Paul Jr. didn’t have any of the typical risk factors that would have raised red flags for blood clots.

Risk factors for blood clots generally include:

  • Hospitalization for illness or surgery
  • Injury to a vein that may have been caused by a broken bone or severe muscle injury
  • Cancer and cancer treatments
  • Use of birth control medications or hormone replacement therapies which contain estrogen
  • A family history of blood clots
  • Obesity
  • Confinement to bed
  • Sitting too long, especially with legs crossed

All of those things can cause a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis, a blood clot, usually in the arm or leg, which can travel to the lungs and become a pulmonary embolism.

LEARN MORE | Click here to get the facts on Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolisms

The Englerts say because their son was healthy and active and had none of the usual risk factors, it never occurred to them, or to Paul’s doctor, that he could have a life-threatening blood clot. “If I had even had it in the back of my mind, I would have taken him to the hospital. Or even just said to the doctor, ‘perhaps’,” Denise said.

Denise and Paul Englert Sr. are now on a mission to raise awareness about blood clots and to push the medical community to start looking at every person of every age as being at risk for blood clots.

The statistics on fatal blood clots are alarming. On average, one person dies every six minutes from a blood clot. 274 people die each day. But blood clots are preventable and are treatable, if diagnosed.

They can be treated with blood thinners. If you know you have them, they can completely be prevented,” Denise said. “So that’s what we’re trying to do is make people aware and hopefully save lives.”

The Englerts say, if they had known what to look for when it came to blood clots, it’s possible their son could still be with them today. “On the odd case, sometimes the first symptom is unfortunately death, but if you know what to look for, you can at least throw that possibility out,” Denise said.

Now, this family is left trying to keep their son’s memory alive by saving the lives of others.”It’s a fear you have when you lose your child that people aren’t going to remember he was here,” Denise said. “But more importantly, we want to save other people from what we’re living with, whether it’s their child or their husband or their sibling. We just want people to be aware. We want to save lives in his name and just help other people.”

LEARN MORE | Click here to find out how blood clots can be prevented, saving lives.

The Englerts have hosted blood drives in Paul Jr.’s honor and have marched in parades in his name. Now, they’re planning an event to raise money for the National Blood Clot Alliance, a non-profit, voluntary health organization dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots.

The Forever Young Fundraiser for the National Blood Clot Alliance will be held Sunday, March 6, 2016, between 1 and 5 p.m. at the Clarence Fire Hall, 10355 Main Street, Clarence, New York.

Tickets for adults cost $20, and includes food and beverages at the fundraiser, which will also feature a Chinese Auction, premier raffle items, a 50/50 raffle, and a pulmonologist as a guest speaker, as well as free face painting and children’s baskets. Tickets for children age 12 and under are free.

For tickets and more information on the Forever Young Fundraiser in Paul Englert Jr.’s memory, please call Denise Englert at (716)949-1006. You can also email foreveryoung030616@gmail.com.

For more information about blood clots and what you need to know to prevent them, please visit stoptheclot.org.

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