An unvaccinated 20-year-old sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington died from COVID-19 complications this week after repeatedly resisting to get the shot, his distraught mother said.
Tyler Gilreath tested positive for the illness on Aug. 20 — just three days after moving onto campus — and he later developed a debilitating sinus infection that spread to his brain, the student’s mom, Tamra Demello told the News & Observer.
After three weeks of battling serious sickness, and multiple operations, Gilreath was taken off life support on Monday after doctors informed the family he wasn’t going to make it.
“I am devastated beyond belief,” Demello wrote in a Facebook post announcing the tragic news.
Demello wrote that she “cajoled, encouraged, threatened, and nagged” her son to get vaccinated.
He kept refusing, insisting he wouldn’t get sick as a healthy 20-year-old, the mother said.
But Gilreath finally caved to his mother’s pressure, promising to get the jab once he settled in at college, his mother said.
“He didn’t get the chance,” the heartbroken mother wrote.
Like many other relatives of COVID-19 victims, Demello is now sounding the alarm in hope of changing the minds of other young people that share her son’s reluctance with the vaccine.
“We’re just hoping if we can just convince these young people who think they’re invincible, you know, that this active, healthy, not ever really sick kid — if this can happen to him from those complications, that it can happen to them too,” Demello told the News & Observer.
Gilreath was an organ donor and doctors on Monday harvested his heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, the report said.
“We’re very thankful that he’ll live on. He would’ve been just really happy to have at least helped somebody else,” Demello told the newspaper.