Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2004

Family learns cause of teen’s unexpected death

September 9, 2004

Finally, Theresa Bateson has an answer to the cause of the shocking death of her 13-year-old daughter, Krystal, in June. It's been a struggle, but now she finally knows what to look for in making sure her son, David, doesn't have the same genetic problem.

Bateson and her husband, Kenneth, finally got the pathologist's report Saturday. The report pointed the finger at Myxoid heart disease, which is genetic, and effects the lining in a heart valve.

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The report ended months of agonizing over the cause and how it might relate to their son. The initial autopsy revealed nothing. Toxicology work didn't either. There was one delay after another in getting samples to specialists. At one point, the Cowley County coroner, who led the investigation into the death, said it might have been viral myocarditis, a cold in the heart, and sent samples off to a leading pathologist in Tampa, Fla.

The coroner didn't call Bateson with those results. She read about it in a newspaper. She was shocked. But, she was pleased to know the samples had been sent elsewhere. Then, she had to wait for another month not knowing what to do.

"It's been frustrating," Bateson said Wednesday morning. "The other questions I have is it something that just came on, was she born with it, will we need to keep testing and watching David for it or will a one-time test be enough? At any rate, this is what we found out.

"What the report said was we should consult with a cardiologist or genetic specialist," she said. "The report said it's likely she died of cardiac arrhythmia related to Myxoid heart disease. But, the pathologist said he did not see any of the lesions that they sometimes see with this disease. It's something about your valve in your heart -- the lining in it. It wasn't really abnormal. It was supposed to be tight. Krystal's was like a sponge. What else they don't know is how that was related to how the valve controlled electrolytes."

While the report had finally brought some relief and Bateson has scheduled an appointment for David with a cardiologist, there are still lingering questions.

"There's a little bit of relief, yes," Bateson said. "I always wondered about David because we didn't know anything from the autopsy. Yes, we did find out we need to do something. It's a little scary, too. I still don't know if there are symptoms I could have looked for or tests we could have done.

"It's the same with David. What do you do to protect him? What are the symptoms to look for?" she said. "We also have to get David tested because it's genetic. We've got an appointment with the cardiologist."

The questions started from the beginning, when Krystal died June 13 while at a softball tournament in Winfield. It was a Sunday morning after games the day before. She was unresponsive when her mother tried to wake her and was taken to the hospital. But, it was too late.

Krystal was extremely active and athletic, so it was a puzzle. Then, the autopsy revealed no answers. Delays in testing samples didn't help. All the while, the Batesons were left to wonder why and how. Family and friends have been awaiting word, too, as well as just about any parent with teenagers, especially girls.

"Probably other parents need to have some concern," Bateson said. "I don't have the answers. I just know I have to get David tested and move on."

Moving on has been difficult from the start, too. Krystal's first volleyball game as a Baldwin High School Bulldog would have been Tuesday. Bateson has heard from Krystal's teammates and their parents.

"It's just been really hard since school has started and activities have started," she said, fighting back the tears that have also been a part of the long ordeal.

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