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Tragic passing of UB student leads parents to share insights on the dangers of blood clots

Paul Englert Jr. was a University at Buffalo student studying to become a civil engineer when his life was cut short by a blood clot that choked the blood supply to his lungs.

He was 19 at the time, an only child who had just started his sophomore year. Healthy, active and smart, he had no known risk factors and barely any symptoms, save what appeared to be exercise-related asthma during allergy season, when he died unexpectedly in September 2013.

His parents, Paul Sr. and Denise Englert, of Clarence, discovered afterward that their son had a deep vein thrombosis, which turned into a pulmonary embolism when it traveled out of one of his legs.

“It typically used to be looked at as an older person’s illness,” his mother said, “but if you look at the National Blood Clot Alliance website, stoptheclot.org, there are patient stories and they include many young adults. I think it’s more common than we realize, so we want the medical field to look at every person as being at risk of having a blood clot. They can get one at any age, any time.”

The Englert family looks to help spare others of a similar loss, and will host a Forever Young Fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit blood clot alliance from 1 to 5 p.m. March 6 in the Clarence Fire Hall, 10355 Main St., Clarence.

The alliance is dedicated to advancing the prevention, early diagnosis, and successful treatment of life-threatening blood clots. If diagnosed, blood clots can be treated.

Symptoms of pulmonary emboli include a sudden shortness of breath, stabbing chest pain that can worsen with each breath, rapid heart beat and an unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus, according to the alliance. Someone with these symptoms should call 911 or go immediately to an emergency room.

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of the body, usually in the legs, but sometimes in an arm. Symptoms include swelling and warmth in the impacted limb, leg pain or tenderness that often feels like a cramp or Charley horse, and red or blue skin discoloration. Check with your doctor if you have these symptoms.

Paul Jr. – whom his parents recalled as goal-oriented, often smiling and laughing – didn’t have pronounced symptoms until it was too late. It seemed reasonable for their family doctor to conclude that he was suffering from exercise-related asthma when his breathing problems began, the Englerts said. He played football and lacrosse while at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute before UB and continued to lead a busy life at school, including working in the bag room at the Brookfield Country Club clubhouse. He also did sometimes get seasonal allergies.

“Typically you have other symptoms,” his mother said. “You might have leg pain or swelling because that’s where a blot clot usually starts. Doing our research, we have found that people will go to the hospital with these symptoms and they’re told they have anxiety or something else, then released, and they’re not looked at for having a blood clot. We want people to be aware of the symptoms and know what they are, and that they can be treated if they’re found.”

The benefit will include children’s baskets, face painting, a balloon artist (from 1 to 3 p.m.) a silent auction, raffle items, 50/50 raffle and a talk by a local pulmonologist about blood clots. Tickets, available at the door, are $20 and include pizza and a beverage. Children 12 and under are free. For more information about tickets or to donate or volunteer, call Denise Englert at 949-1006 or email foreveryoung030616@gmail.com.

refresh@buffnews.com

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