When, a few months ago, Jeff McKnight developed a fever, he and his wife immediately thought it was COVID-19, given the situation. So, they asked for a COVID test, which they were granted after days of discussing with doctors about why the fever kept coming back.
At first, doctors refused to admit him as a COVID-19 patient, but when they realized he had been losing much blood without any obvious reason, they decided to do so.
Jeff was examined thoroughly because doctors thought he might have COVID-19 in combination with another illness, so they kept looking for the cause of his persistent fever and blood loss.
The doctors and his family were concerned because he had Crohn’s disease and he had been on immunosuppressants, meaning if he got coronavirus he would be high risk.
First dose pralatrexate: here we go! pic.twitter.com/bXFsCWnvW6
— McKnight Lab (@McKnightLab_UO) August 17, 2020
Eventually, his results came in and he found out he didn’t have it. This meant there was something else hiding behind his symptoms. They just had to find what it was. Jeff and his family were praying it wasn’t something serious.
However, when his wife Laura went back home and googled his symptoms, she realized it might be something grave.
“I came across hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL) and nearly fainted because it described him so perfectly — average age of onset mid-30s, usually males with a history of Crohn’s disease — but the prognosis was very grim,” Laura told Today.
Our insurance, @Providence, approved a new med but the only pharmacy that has it isn’t ‘in network’ & it’ll take weeks to fix–time he doesn’t have
— Laura McKnight (@McknightLaura) September 16, 2020
This finding stressed Laura out, but she tried to push the thought away and hope for the best. But then she received a call from her husband and her whole world crumbled.
“He called me, and I immediately knew something was wrong because we NEVER talk on the phone, even with each other, but I wasn’t prepared for the actual news. He said, ‘It’s the bad one’ and I sort of crumpled onto the floor.”
Jeff’s doctors tried to treat his lymphoma with four rounds of chemotherapy and hoped that, if that went well, he could receive a bone marrow transplant. But things didn’t go the way everyone prayed for. On the contrary, Jeff’s body didn’t react to chemo the way it was supposed to, so he was no more a candidate for a transplant.
The man ended up in a Seattle hospital just in case chemotherapy worked and he could receive a different treatment. But, eventually, doctors concluded nothing could be done anymore. In fact, they told Jeff and Laura that the man had a week left more or less.
That was when Jeff realized he had to do something for his family. He would always protect and care for Laura and their daughter, Katherine, as long as he was around, but what about when he was gone?
Laura worked at their lab and she would soon be unemployed once he passed away. This realization made him start a GoFundMe so he could raise money for Laura and Katherine to live on until his wife could find a new job. Besides raising money for his family he also reached out to a few other scientists about the possibility of Laura find a job once she was ready to go back to work.
I’m raising money for Helping Laura and Katherine get through my death.. Click to Donate
— McKnight Lab (@McKnightLab_UO) October 2, 2020
The initial goal was $200,000, but donations have so far reached about $420,000.
Laura had no idea her husband had started the GoFundMe, and when she found out she couldn’t hold her tears.
“He was always looking out for people, though I couldn’t have predicted the extent to which he tried to make plans for me and Katherine,” Laura said.
Now, just a few days after Jeff’s passing, his family is trying to cope with the loss, but at least they can do so without worrying about money for the time being. And it’s all thanks to this daddy who loved his family so much that he made sure his beloved wife and daughter would be financially covered once he was gone.
This is who Jeff was, a generous man, a loving husband and father. He will be dearly remembered and deeply missed, and his memory will stay with his family forever.
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