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A 26-year-old South Dakota man who died Nov. 12, 2021, of myocarditis — four days after his booster dose of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine — had no idea he was experiencing a rare and supposedly “mild” heart problem after the shot.
Joseph Keating’s only warning signs were fatigue, muscle soreness and an increased heart rate, family members said.
In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Joseph’s father, mother and sister said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not investigated Joseph’s death.
The CDC also did not contact the pathologist who performed the autopsy or request the documents which confirmed Joseph’s death was caused by the Pfizer vaccine.
Joseph’s mother, Cayleen, said her son was pro-vaccine and worked in an environment where he needed to be vaccinated. According to Joseph’s vaccination cards, he received his first Pfizer shot on March 26, 2021, and the second dose on April 16.
“This was on a Monday,” Cayleen said. “Tuesday and Wednesday he was fine, but Thursday morning — 72 hours after the booster — he called and said he had a sore throat.”
Cayleen made her son some hot apple cider and he took throat lozenges and went to work, but within two hours he called her to pick him up because he was so fatigued he couldn’t work.
When Cayleen asked him what was wrong, Joseph told her he had some muscle soreness, exhaustion and a sore throat.
“When we googled, ‘what are your reactions to having the Pfizer vaccine,’ a lot of the results say people deal with fatigue, muscle soreness and everything, so we both just brushed it off as reactions to the vaccine and it was no big deal,” Cayleen said.
Joseph slept through Thursday. On Friday morning, he told his mother he would have to call into work again because he was too exhausted to go in. Cayleen visited Joseph and said he appeared to be normal, other than fatigue and muscle soreness.
“He wasn’t really acting sick, just exhausted,” she said.
Cayleen, a critical care nurse of 35 years, took her son’s vitals and noted his temperature was up to 100.2 and his heart rate was elevated to 112. She thought it was related to the fever, so she gave him Tylenol.
Later that day, Joseph texted his mother that his fever was down. By 4:30 p.m., his oxygen was at 100%, but his heart rate was still elevated.
Joseph’s father, William, visited his son around 5 p.m. and they had dinner. William left at 6 p.m. Two hours later their son was dead.
The family knows when Joseph died because of the Apple Watch data they retrieved from his phone. Joseph had an app enabled that measured his heart rate up to the time of his death.
“He went to sit down in his recliner and when we [the family] came the next day we were able to pull up the data from his Apple Watch showing the exact time of his death and exactly what his heart rate was doing the past two hours.
“It showed he was beating at 100s all during the day and after 6 p.m., when he sat in the recliner, his heart rate dropped into the 60s, which was low for Joseph, who always had a resting heart rate in the 80s and 90s — and then it just stopped.”
Cayleen said when they found Joseph the next morning, there were no signs he knew he was going to die.
“He was even having a two-way conversation with several of his friends before his death. The phone and remote control were on his lap,” his mother said.
The family called 911 and detectives came to make sure it wasn’t a crime scene because “26-year-olds don’t just die,” Cayleen said.
When detectives separated Cayleen and her husband for questioning, she told the detectives the only thing she knew was that four days prior her son had received Pfizer’s vaccine and he was having adverse reactions. Four days later he was dead.
Autopsy confirms Joseph died of myocarditis
After Joseph died, an autopsy had to be performed to confirm the cause of death.
“When they first did the preliminaries they couldn’t find anything — his heart looked normal,” Cayleen said. But “the pathologist said he was going to do 22 different slides to see what he could find.”
Meanwhile, Cayleen said she started hearing stories about young males getting myocarditis from COVID vaccines.
“I knew COVID could cause MIS-C [multisystem inflammatory syndrome], but nobody told me the vaccine was giving people myocarditis,” Cayleen said. “There’s a big difference between COVID giving you myocarditis and a vaccine giving you myocarditis and actually killing you.”
“When the pathologist looked at the 22 segments of Joseph’s heart, it showed the vaccine inflamed and attacked his entire heart. There was so much damage … to the heart. It was full multi-focal myocarditis, and it wasn’t just affecting one part of his heart, it was attacking his whole septum and ventricles.”
Cayleen thinks her son developed so much inflammation from the booster that his heart developed a fatal arrhythmia that killed him instantly.
She spoke with several cardiologists who were surprised her son never experienced any type of chest pain.
“The hallmark signs as a parent that would prompt you to seek medical help were not given to me,” Cayleen said. “He didn’t know his heart was racing, or fluttering or becoming A-fib. All he complained about was the muscle soreness and fatigue.”
Joseph’s private physician called the family after his autopsy results were back and told Cayleen if she would have called him and informed him of Joseph’s symptoms, he would have said it was just a side effect of the vaccine.
“If we would have brought him in Thursday or Friday, nobody would have discovered it,” Cayleen said.
Joseph’s sister, Kaylee, said, “My brother felt he wasn’t bad enough to seek medical attention because he wasn’t having any symptoms, it just came out of nowhere.”
“That’s what is so amazing that he didn’t have any chest pain, he didn’t feel his heart flutter, he didn’t have any shortness of breath,” Cayleen said. “I mean two hours before he died he has 100 percent oxygen concentration. It just didn’t show anything outside of an elevated heart rate.”
Cayleen said she took a full set of vitals and her son just didn’t feel sick. “When you’re sick, you’re in bed, but he just never felt that way. He just got into a rate the heart couldn’t keep up with and he died.”
Cayleen said she is thankful an autopsy was performed because it revealed her son died directly from the vaccine and the myocarditis he suffered was from the vaccine.
“It’s documented proof,” Cayleen said. “He died directly from the Pfizer booster.”
CDC ignores reports of death caused by myocarditis
Both Joseph’s family and the pathologist submitted a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), but to this day, neither have been contacted by the CDC about Joseph’s death.
“You would think the death of a child from a reaction to a COVID vaccine that’s documented on the death certificate and autopsy, the CDC would have reached out to us immediately,” Cayleen said. “You would think the CDC would have called the pathologist.”
According to the CDC website, the agency contacts people who meet the case definition for myocarditis following mRNA COVID vaccine and have submitted a report to VAERS.
To meet the case definition, people must have had “symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath and feelings of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart, and medical tests to support the diagnosis of myocarditis and rule out other causes.”
This rules out deaths like Joseph’s, who wasn’t diagnosed with myocarditis prior to death and did not experience the symptoms that would normally fall under the CDC’s case definition.
Cayleen said the state’s health department also has not investigated her son’s death, as they said they first needed to be contacted by the CDC.
“Nobody wants to touch it,” William said. “I’ve been calling the state health department the last few days and they keep saying they have to wait for the CDC and the facts. I told them the facts are in the autopsy, but they said they had to wait longer.“
As The Defender reported Jan. 6, emails obtained by Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Request show the CDC is leaving it up to state health departments to investigate deaths following COVID vaccines, including the death of a 13-year-old boy who died from myocarditis three days after his second Pfizer shot.
What?!? CDC is leaving it to state health departments to investigate deaths reported following COVID vaccines, including the June 2021 death of 13-year-old Jacob Clynick who died of myocarditis three days after his second Pfizer shot.https://t.co/k5ZG883NRB
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) January 7, 2022
“We’ve heard no response. We contacted the local news station to get the word out that this happened, and they said their hands were tied. We called the pathologist, no comment. The governor, no comment. The health department, no comment. The CDC, no comment. So, nobody’s talking about it.”
Cayleen said her main goal in sharing her son’s story is to let other families know this happened without any warning.
“Thirty-five years as a registered nurse, I should have known something was happening and I didn’t know,“ she said. “There were no signs.”
“It’s sad because it’s like Joseph’s death never occurred. I just don’t get why we can’t warn parents that something like this — to watch out. He didn’t have any symptoms the first two days and then he developed symptoms the third day. But I didn’t put it together because he didn’t have the symptoms where you would think something was destroying his heart. But he was dead at four days.
“Joseph’s been gone for two months and nobody knows that this boy gave his life for the greater good of America to get a booster.”
William said he doesn’t feel like anybody wants to deal with the people who get sick or die following COVID vaccines.
Cayleen said her son was an innocent 26-year-old who was “doing everything right” by getting his vaccines and booster, but then died — and nobody wants to acknowledge it, accept it or tell her why.
Expert dismisses death due to resolved pre-existing condition
In the autopsy report, the section associated with the brain states there was a “mass composed of multiple vessels of varying size with retractile foreign material with giant cell inflammatory response and calcification; large-caliber vessel with thrombus.”
Kaylee and her mother said Joseph was born with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) that had since been cured.
“The ‘foreign material’ is ‘super glue’ — which is the material [Joseph’s doctor] used to seal off the AVM,” Kaylee clarified. “The ‘mass’ was the calcification of the glue material.”
Cayleen said a brain angiogram performed on Oct 12, 2020, showed the AVM was cured — meaning it was all the way closed and sealed. So her son had no underlying condition at the time he received his Pfizer booster.
“Even the pathologist said his brain could be donated because there was no evidence of the AVM,” Kaylee said.
When Cayleen called Joseph’s brain doctor and explained her son had passed away from the booster, he told her about an “underlying study showing young adult males are getting myocarditis from COVID Pfizer boosters.”
“So here these world-renowned physicians know this but I don’t know this,” Cayleen said. “Joseph’s doctor knew right away it was the booster.”
As part of his monitoring, Joseph had received numerous cardiac tests over the years that revealed a healthy and normal heart.
Shortly after Joseph died, Cayleen went online to see if she could pull up any research data and found that Dr. Jane Newburger at Harvard Medical School recently conducted a large research study on myocarditis in adolescents and young adults. However, Newburger didn’t acknowledge any deaths.
Cayleen contacted Newberger and told her she had a 26-year-old healthy son who died of myocarditis after receiving his booster shot. Although they talked for an hour, Newberger was “in denial because Joseph was born with an AVM in his brain.”
Yet, he was on no daily medication at all and “was as normal as me and you,” Cayleen said. “He had just graduated college as a double major and his AVM was gone and sealed.”
No recourse for people injured by COVID vaccines, family living worst nightmare
Cayleen said there is no recourse for people who are injured by COVID vaccines, especially because we’re “in this emergency pandemic phase and can’t sue anybody.”
“We can’t say, ‘Oh, my God you’ve caused the death of our child,’ so we are left with all the expenses on us,” she added. “We just know that numbers need to be reported and parents need to be aware.”
Kaylee, who isn’t vaccinated, said the whole experience has been overwhelming.
“I’ve been in the underground the past year and have spoken to friends who have felt the same as me and informed me on the scary things that were happening with vaccines.”
“I am a 37-year-old young, healthy individual and I was more scared of the vaccine than I was of COVID, so I chose not to get it. When we found my brother, one of the first things my mom said, because we both looked at each other ‘like what happened,’ she said she got him his vaccines on Monday.
“I just went, these are the horror stories that I have been reading about — blood clots and scary things that were happening to young healthy people, and though that was just heartbreaking, and living this nightmare now that I have read about is really just unbelievable. You know you hear these stories but to actually be living it is really hard.”
Kaylee said they’re not sharing their story to tell people to get vaccinated or not, but to “encourage” others to ask health professionals for honest evidence and research on whether or not they should be vaccinated.
“For nobody to tell my mom of myocarditis is crazy,” Kaylee said. “She should have known about these risks.”
In a social media post, Kaylee said:
“If you knew Joseph, you knew he loved science and he was always pro-science and pro-vaccine. He trusted science and did his part. We understand Joseph represents a very rare and very small portion who experienced negative side effects from the vaccine, but we are choosing to share this news not by starting any controversy or retaliation or telling you to get vaccinated or not, we are sharing this in hopes that people understand that these reactions exist and are very real and to be rightly informed.
“We want answers why this happened and we want more research done so no one else goes through this heartache. We want the CDC and the FDA to honestly communicate with the medical community and the public what is happening and what can happen, not be silenced.”
Cayleen said her son had no previous history of COVID and it’s scary to think people are being recommended to have boosters at five months without anyone looking into the adverse events this could cause.
“I didn’t want to take a risk of Joe having COVID so I wanted to protect him with the vaccine, but now I ask why it killed him. They need to do research into it. It was crazy we could develop a vaccine in a year’s time when a normal vaccine takes 10 years to develop. There have to be so many unanswered questions out there and this is just one that needs to be researched.”
Cayleen said she doesn’t want her son’s death to be in vain.
“I want answers and I want Pfizer and the CDC to call me and tell me what went wrong. I want to save another child.”