DiabeticLifestyle is now OnTrackDiabetes.com! Learn more.
FOLLOW US

Mother of 22-Year-Old Who Died from Diabetic Ketoacidosis Speaks Out

In the aftermath of her son's tragic death, Lyndall Hauver urges caregivers: People with type 1 diabetes who develop flu-like symptoms should head straight to the hospital.

Will Hauver was feeling under the weather with aches, an upset stomach, and fever, but still had enough energy for varsity lacrosse practice at Rollins College in Florida the last day of January in 2015. It appeared he got the flu that already struck others on campus.

The next day, a Sunday, the 22-year-old felt a bit better and visited his fraternity, rounding up some freshman pledges to clean his house. He went to bed early to rest up for an upcoming lacrosse trip.

Monday morning, Will's roommate found him on the floor, passed out.

By that afternoon, he had died.

Will, who had type 1 diabetes, died from diabetic ketoacidosis (or DKA)1 a serious, acute complication of diabetes that results from too little insulin and can be brought on by the flu.When a person develops DKA it's the result of dangerously high levels of blood acids in the body called ketones. Ketones alter the chemical balance of blood in the body.

After Will's death, his grief-stricken mom, Lyndall Hauver, of Towson, Maryland, decided to share Will's story in the hope that others will learn from her family's tragic loss.

"As soon as you get a fever or have a sign of the flu or a stomach virus go to the hospital," Lyndall says.  "It causes your blood sugar to go crazy, to go up and down and that wreaks havoc on your fluids and heart and everything else."

"You have to be vigilant," she continues. "It's easy to get complacent when things are going well." She adds: "This was a fluke occurrence, bad luck, and I can't change it. It breaks my heart every minute."

The Longest Hour

Days before Will's death, the parents of some of Will's teammates told Lyndall that the flu was going around. Lyndall texted her concerns to Will and told him to stay away from kids with symptoms.

"He said not to worry," Lyndall says. "When I said 'stay away from your friends with the flu' I should have said, 'If you get the flu, go to the emergency room.'"

Around lunchtime on Monday, February 2, Lyndall received a call from the mother of one of Will's roommates—Will had collapsed.

Lyndall and her husband, Bob, arranged for a plane flight to Florida and sped to the airport 30 minutes away.

"We tried to call the roommate, the hospital, the trainers, the coaches and no one called me back and when we got through to the hospital there was no record of him," Lyndall recalls. "And we knew it wasn't good because that meant they were still working on him."

While waiting for her flight in the airport, Lyndall received a call from the doctor. Will had died. His blood sugar level, recalls Lyndall, was "in the 800s to 900s."

Telling Symptoms Lead to Will's Diagnosis

The young man's shocking death came seven and a half years after his diagnosis when he was a high school freshman—a high-energy teen who loved soccer, tennis lacrosse and squash.One day after playing soccer, the then 15-year-old Will complained of blurry vision. A few days later after running a race, he was unusually thirsty and the desire to eat sweets such as ice cream and sodas increased. He was urinating frequently and felt  too sick to go to school. Will had also lost weight.

lacrosse


When Lyndall described the symptoms to Will's pediatrician, the doctor said it was a virus but Lyndall had a hunch it was something more serious.

She had just read an article in People magazine4 about pop star Nick Jonas' type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and the symptoms matched. She immediately took Will to the emergency room where doctor's discovered his blood sugar near a dangerously high 800. An ambulance transported Will to another hospital with a pediatric endocrinologist who could better treat Will.

The next day a hospital diabetes educator first told Will about his diagnosis. "His eyes got huge and he started crying," recalls Lyndall. "He'd never heard of diabetes."


That fear was quickly moved to the back burner as Will and his family learned how to manage his condition. Before he was released from the hopsital, Will had practiced using a finger prick to check his sugar and learned how to use syringes and then pens to deliver the insulin his body was unable to produce on its own.

Will's parents never tried to curb the activities of their son, an athlete and budding artist whose creations ranged from caricatures to furniture designs.

"He recognized when he was low and he'd drink the Gatorade or whatever he had on him," Lyndall says. "He just always had something on him for when he was low."

Will learned how to best manage his diabetes in high school after suffering two episodes of significantly low blood sugar. The scariest ocurred during senior year when the family was on a trip in rural Virginia, Will's blood sugar plummeted and he had a seizure.

Following a brief hospitalization, Will switched from a pediatric endocrinologist to an adult endocrinologist who also had type 1 diabetes.

"By better understanding the disease Will was better able to take care of it," says Lyndall, "and we never had a problem again."

Thriving In Spite of Having T1D 

When Will was accepted into his dream school, Rollins College, his parents fully supported his intention to attend, despite it being a plane ride away from their Maryland home. They were confident he could manage his diabetes, which he always did. Plus he'd have the support of a trainer, well-informed roommates, and a nearby endocrinologist.

Will thrived at school as a communications major and fine arts minor. Senior year, Will captained the lacrosse team and was set to graduate with honors, hoping to  pursue a career in graphic arts.

This was the happiest he'd ever seemed.

"He was happy making other people happy, that is what he wanted to do," says Megan Hauver, 27, Will's older sister. "He had this very dry and sometimes very inappropriate sense of humor."

siblings

After Will's death, Megan's parents gave her a Goldendoodle puppy to help with her grief.

"There were days when I didn't want to get out of bed," she says. "But if you have a puppy you have to get out."

Lyndall hopes others with type 1 diabetes remember to get a flu shot, carry a thermometer, go to the hospital with flu symptoms, and embrace life.

"When you have a child with diabetes you have to let them live their life the way they want to live it and Will couldn't have been happier, he died a happy person," she says. 

"You have to allow them to be fulfilled in the way they want," she continues. "That is what we did and I will never regret that."
 

Updated on: July 26, 2017
Continue Reading
Episode 11: Losing Will
MAIN MENU