As a 6’1″ 265-pound freshman center for the Green Knights, Kevin Reynolds was the epitome of strength and health. He was, until April of his freshman year at the De Pere, Wisconsin college when something went wrong.
He faced a series of health problems complicated by a staph infection in his heart that changed the course of his life.
Kevin was initially diagnosed with mononucleosis. Further tests revealed that he had an infarct, or blockage, in his kidney.
More tests revealed that Reynolds had a staph infection of the mitral valve of his heart. He also had experienced three mild strokes as a result of the infection. Additional lab tests showed a rare deficiency in his immune system that couldn’t be pinpointed. Doctors put him on antibiotics hoping to prevent further infection.
In April of 2010, due to the deterioration of his mitral valve, Kevin had to have open-heart surgery at Northwestern Hospital. A cow valve was implanted as a replacement.
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After recovering from surgery, Kevin spent the summer working as a day camp counselor for the Grayslake Park District. He looked forward to returning to school at St. Norbert. He was slated to be the starting center in the fall of 2011 for the Green Knights football squad.
Things were looking up and the worst appeared over. But then he faced a new medical problem.
In the first week of November 2010, Kevin saw “floaters” ” a visual sign of strokes occurring in his body. Kevin suffered over 20 strokes that left him paralyzed on his right side and the resultant aphasia left him without speech.
“I wasn’t in a coma,” Kevin said, “but I don’t remember anything between that time and the first week of December.”
The staph infection had come back with a vengeance and attacked his heart. As the infection broke up and traveled through his bloodstream, it attacked his brain and incapacitated him. The emboli damaged the left half of his brain which controls the right side of his body and speech.
Kevin’s parents, Dave and Jody Reynolds, were then faced with a mind-numbing dilemma concerning their son. The surgeon at Northwestern wanted to operate immediately on Kevin’s heart due to the rapid deterioration of his heart’s mitral valve, but the neurologist said that the surgery could do massive
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