19-year-old Appalachian State student dies of COVID-19 complications


BOONE, N.C. (WAVY) – A 19-year-old North Carolina college student who had been in “tremendous shape” died earlier this week from COVID-19 complications.

Chad Dorrill, an Appalachian State University sophomore who had been living off-campus and taking online classes, died Monday night, the university confirmed.

His family told the New York Times he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sept. 7 and returned home to quarantine for 10 days, but later experienced serious neurological problems when he returned to Boone, including not being able to use his legs.

While COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system, a significant number patients have reported neurological symptoms.

Doctors at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem said they’re trying to figure out how this happened to the “super healthy” 19-year-old, who was known as a talented basketball player, but they considered the case “one-in-a-million.”

The Times reported doctors told a family friend they suspected a previously undetected case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder that leads to the body’s immune system attacking nerves. Cases have been linked to the syndrome.

Most young and healthy people who contract COVID-19 typically don’t develop serious symptoms. But some, including Dorrill and a football player at California University of Pennsylvania, have died or have been sickened for months.

Dorrill’s family say they don’t know how he contracted the virus, but he said he was “always careful to wear a mask.”

The Piedmont Pacers, a travel basketball team Dorrill played for, said he was a fierce competitor who helped them win many games. He finished as the Pacers’ all-time leading scorer and was a member of the 2018 USSSA National Championship team.

“The Piedmont Pacers family is devastated to learn of the passing of Chad Dorrill, due to complications from COVID-19,” the Pacers said. “This awful disease has taken this young man from everyone far too soon. Chad was an original member of the Piedmont Pacers and we first met him in 2013 after he and his family moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin. We quickly realized what a talented basketball player he was.”

His family issued this public statement, via the Piedmont Pacer:

As our family suffers this incredible loss, we want to remind people to wear a mask and quarantine if you test positive even without symptoms. You have no idea who you can come into contact with that the virus affects differently. Chad was just incredibly tired for two weeks and little did we know it was secretly attacking his body in a way they have never seen before. The doctors said that Chad is the rarest 1-10,000,000 case but if it can happen to a super healthy 19-year old boy who doesn’t smoke, vape or do drugs, it can happen to anyone.

More than 130,000 COVID-19 cases have been linked so far to college campuses, including more than 6,000 at 46 schools in North Carolina and more than 4,300 cases at 39 schools in Virginia. App State was reporting 159 active student cases as of Tuesday, and 561 since March.

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