Minneapolis StarTribune Special project: What killed Reece Meikle?
ABOUT THIS STORY
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.