BYU student, LDS seminary teacher watches son's birth before succumbing to sudden illness

Published: Saturday, Dec. 14 2013 10:00 p.m. MST

FILLMORE — Jodi Robison can tell you in great detail about what led to the death of her 24-year-old son, but even with a detailed timeline and all the facts in the world, it's difficult to make sense of it.

One moment, Josh Robison merely had a headache. Two weeks later, he was gone — killed by an infection that made its way to his heart and then his brain. He leaves behind a wife and newborn son.

Jodi Robison tells the story almost breathlessly, urgently, her voice quavering. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Josh started to complain of a headache. Soon after, he started to vomit.

But he needed to get back to his wife, Erica, who was carrying the couple's first child. And he was anxious to get back to school — he was a student at BYU — and to his job teaching LDS seminary classes at Lone Peak High School.

"He never did go back to school or work," Jodi Robison said.

He visited a medical clinic on Dec. 3, thinking he had the flu, and he was given medicine to treat it. By Dec. 6, he wasn't feeling any better.

Josh Robison was at his in-laws' home doing laundry when his father-in-law noticed his wrist was swollen. Jodi Robison said she called her family's primary care physician, who said her son need to get to an emergency room immediately.

By the time Josh Robison arrived, he had acute onset delirium.

"He didn't know where he was. He couldn't put words together. He answered questions funny," Jodi Robison said. "They told us we better come."

By the time she arrived from Fillmore, her son had been rehydrated, his temperature had lowered and his swelling had gone down. After some blood tests and a spinal tap, "they knew he had an infection — and a serious one," Jodi Robison said.

Josh Robison was admitted to the hospital and treated for both viral and bacterial infections until the source of the problem was located, an infection on the mitral valve in his heart.

"Because of the danger of having an infection on your heart — it's pumping bacteria in your bloodstream on every beat — he had emergency open heart surgery Monday," Jodi Robison said.

The procedure went well, despite warnings that he was high risk. Josh Robison got out of the intensive care unit faster than was expected and he was well enough to leave his room and venture to that of his wife, who was in labor.

"He was in the room when his son was born, and he got to hold him," Jodi Robison said.

Already "weak and sick," Josh Robison reported soon after that he had a painful headache. His surgeon was called, and fearing it signaled something was wrong, a CAT scan was ordered.

"They wheeled him out of the room, and he said, 'Back in a minute,'" Jodi Robison said. "They announced over the intercom and I heard 'code blue.' The nurse ran in and said, 'You better go in there. I'm sure it's Josh.' He had coded on the CT table."

Medical personnel performed CPR and found a bleed on the left side of Josh Robison's brain. They took him immediately into surgery and were able to clean up the bleeding, but the brain had already started to swell.

"Josh never regained consciousness," Jodi Robison said, adding that the swelling never stopped and eventually cut off blood and oxygen to his brain stem. "It was obvious that no matter what they did, it was irreversible. If he did live, it wouldn't be the Josh that we knew."

The family discussed, prayed and ultimately surrounded Josh Robison as he was taken off of a ventilator. Jodi Robison said her son slipped away peacefully Friday.

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