Nine-year-old Taekwando fighter dies of the common cold

A seemingly healthy nine-year-old boy from California has died just a week after coming down with a common cold, caused by the adenovirus. 

Last month, Tristan Ang, a black belt in Taekwondo, was kicking, chopping and punching with the best of them. 

Now his family is warning that the signs of the adenovirus are so subtle that even Tristan’s devastated parents – both nurses – didn’t realize how sick their son was.

Particularly aggressive strains of the virus, one of the top causes of the common cold, have been cropping up more frequently across the US, claiming the lives of 11 children in New Jersey. 

Typically, the virus is only deadly to kids with compromised immune systems, as was the case with most of the New Jersey children, but Tristan had been healthy, and his family is cautioning that ‘it could happen to any kid,’ his mother, Belle, told KTVU

Tristan Ang, nine, died of complications from the common cold, caused by adenovirus just weeks after he competed as a black belt in a national Taekwando competition

Tristan Ang, nine, died of complications from the common cold, caused by adenovirus just weeks after he competed as a black belt in a national Taekwando competition 

Only a week after his first symptoms - a fever, headache and nausea that doctors first dismissed as dehydration - Tristan's brain swelled out of control and the bright, energetic child died suddenly in the ICU

Only a week after his first symptoms – a fever, headache and nausea that doctors first dismissed as dehydration – Tristan’s brain swelled out of control and the bright, energetic child died suddenly in the ICU 

On June 28, at the hospital near their home in Milpitas, California, a doctor said the last words any parents want to hear: that their son was dying. 

Tristan was a healthy, active smile, and had just competed in a national Taekwondo competition. 

But a week later, he was unusually tired and weak. 

Soon his lethargy turned to a fever, headache and nausea. 

He had, after all, been in a grueling competition. 

Belle and Mark – both nurses figured that with a little rest their son would be fine. They gave him Tylenol and Motrin to manage his fever and mild symptoms. 

When he didn’t seem to be improving, the Angs brought Tristan to the hospital, just to be sure.   

The virus caused nine-year-old Tristan's brain to swell fatally, a rare complication

Tristan's heart stopped four times while he was in the ICU near his home in California before he died suddenly on June 28

The virus caused nine-year-old Tristan’s brain to swell fatally, a rare complication. Tristan’s heart stopped four times while he was in the ICU near his home in California before he died suddenly on June 28

His parents said Tristan had always been active and healthy, winning many Taekwando medals like this one from Stanford University

His parents said Tristan had always been active and healthy, winning many Taekwando medals like this one from Stanford University 

They were told he was likely just dehydrated and sent home.

But water and rest weren’t helping. In fact, Tristan took a dramatic turn for the worse, becoming disoriented and so confused he could barely make out his own name. 

Alarmed, Belle and Mark got their fading son to the hospital as fast as they could.  

This time, Tristan wound up in the intensive care unit. 

His brain was swelling, but he was negative for meningitis. 

Doctors told the Angs that their son was having rare complications from a common cause of the cold, adenovirus.  

Adenovirus typically causes a sore throat, congestion, coughing and fever, and is also responsible for some cases of pinkeye and ear infections.

Both Belle (left) and Mark (right) Ang are nurses, but say their son's symptoms weren't like the cold. They're devastated by the sudden loss of Tristan

Both Belle (left) and Mark (right) Ang are nurses, but say their son’s symptoms weren’t like the cold. They’re devastated by the sudden loss of Tristan 

The nine-year-old is deeply mourned by a family and community that loved him and is in shock

The nine-year-old is deeply mourned by a family and community that loved him and is in shock

Tristan had had the fever, but his other symptoms didn’t line up. 

‘He didn’t even have signs of a cold,’ Mark said. 

Yet the mysterious virus was killing his son.  

Tristan quickly deteriorated before their eyes. As his brain swelled, the rest of his body started to fail the third grader, too. 

His heart stopped a total of four times. 

‘After the fourth go, that’s when the doctor told Belle and I that he’s dying,’Mark told NBC Bay Area.  

‘As a nurse, I know. But as a dad, I don’t want to believe it.’

Just three hours later, their son was gone.  

‘He was exceptional…It’s very unexpected,’ Belle said tearfully.

‘[He was] very healthy, and then all of a sudden, gone.’ 

She added: ‘Even the healthiest kid could die or get the virus fast.’ 

 

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