Off Topic Messages

Compelling local story: What killed Reece Meikle?

Fri Nov 04, 2005 5:07 am

Minneapolis StarTribune Special project: What killed Reece Meikle?


A tip came into the newsroom: a teenager from Woodbury had died from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a disease not found in Minnesota. The tip turned out to be false, but tracking it down brought reporter Josephine Marcotty to this story.

With the family's permission Marcotty spent more than a year reporting the story. She reviewed dozens of documents, including Reece Meikle's medical records and documents. She interviewed dozens of people, including Reece's parents, Leona and Roger Meikle; the physicians, nurses and hospital technicians at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota and more.

A note on quotes: Statements within quotation marks were heard directly by the reporter. Quoted statements without quotation marks come from documents, reports, and/or the recollections of people who were there.

Part 1 of 5: What killed Reece Meikle?
His mother couldn't grasp how her 15-year-old son could go from a bad cough one day to fighting for his life the next. His doctor couldn't give her an answer. He soon realized the agonizing case was beyond the reach of medicine.

Part 2 of 5: Watching as the worst comes true
Leona Meikle heard the doctor's words clearly: Medicine is not infallible. From that moment on, she feared her son Reece, 15, might not recover from a blood disease no one could explain.

Part 3 of 5: From hospital lab to crowded wake, one question: Why?
As the Meikles face their first days without their 15-year-old son, a pathologist searches for the infection he thinks is to blame.

Part 4 of 5: Ruling out everything in search for answers
After months of testing, Reece's mom sought any kind of certainty, even if it was only knowing what didn't kill her 15-year-old son.

Part 5 of 5: Making peace with the unknown
After a 10-month investigation, doctors couldn't explain why Reece Meikle's antibodies turned against him. His mother, Leona, has made her peace with the limitations of scientific knowledge -- no one could have saved her son from the unknown.

Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:22 pm

Thought I'd say a little more about this. I know it's a rather unusual post here so want to make sure anyone who might find it as fascinating as I did has a decent chance of spotting it.

Setting aside the obvious devastation in any situation or story like this as nothing can really be said, we all know that.... I was gripped by the medical case itself - this young man, his blood just one day turned into sludge (my very nonmedical term). I've never heard of anything like this before. Just a normal kid in a normal town on a normal day and his blood turns into sludge. ? When the clock is ticking on something so unusual what happens in your average hospital and what do they do when they can't figure out what happened? I only wish the piece was longer and more detailed. It was very generous of the family to allow this story, it could be any of us in such a position.


Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:26 pm

Eileen -
You don't by any chance work for a newspaper or station, do you?
If not, you definitely missed your calling!

Sun Nov 06, 2005 1:50 pm

Thanks Rob. I think. :) I didn't write anything in the first post though, that was all cut and paste. But my 'normal town' thing was pretty good eh? I should write those station promos.

"Is there a remote control in your house? You probably have a remote control in your hand RIGHT THIS MINUTE! And if you do, you need to know the horrifying truth!! At any moment YOUR REMOTE CONTROL may suddenly.... silently.... destroy ALL genetic material in your household, removing FOREVER any possibility of the creation of life. The only method known to save your family tree from extinction will be revealed in our EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL REPORT. We'll tell you everything you need to know right here, next week, LIVE, on NewsNine at Ten."

Eileen ;)