John Foley, 21, was a junior studying medical sciences at UC. He got vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine on Saturday, April 10. He died the next day. His body was discovered shortly after his death by his roommates in their off-campus student housing. Foley's roommates called the police immediately after discovering the body.
UC officials put out a statement saying it was unable to comment on the specifics of Foley's case, but that it mourns his passing and extends its condolences to his family and friends.
Foley's case comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday, April 13, that it was recommending a pause on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine after reports of serious blood clotting problems. At least nine people have been identified with this condition, including one woman who died. (Related: New Jersey man in critical condition with coronavirus less than a month after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)
Coroner Lakshmi Kode Sammarco of the Hamilton County Coroner's Office has been in contact with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) regarding the terrible situation. The ODH said it has been monitoring the situation closely, and that Sammarco has already briefed ODH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff regarding her office's preliminary findings.
Sammarco said Foley's cause of death has not yet been determined, but a preliminary autopsy report filed by her office said some of the evidence points toward a heart or breathing issue.
Sammarco has also denied any connection between the vaccine and Foley's death.
"I can tell you that we don't see a direct connection between the vaccine administration the day before he passed away," said Sammarco during a virtual news conference. "We have found some additional findings on autopsy that are more likely to be his cause of death. We don't see a direct connection, but are investigating to see if there is an indirect connection."
During the news conference, Sammarco was questioned repeatedly to offer specific details. She declined, claiming that she wanted her office to complete its investigation first.
Sammarco has also denied any evidence of blood clots or pulmonary emboli in Foley's system. "On autopsy, we did not find any evidence of that," she said.
Sammarco has also urged people to not let this incident make them afraid to take the coronavirus vaccine, although she also emphasized that it remains an individual choice.
Foley's memorial service was held in Columbus, his hometown, on Friday. His family has stated through a spokesman that they are asking for privacy during this difficult time. The family also put out a statement, which reads:
"Our beloved son John Francis Foley is gone, and our family mourns the loss of this wonderful and sweet joy of our lives. While the facts remain unclear on how he died, we are rejoicing in how he lived: Caring for others, lit with God's grace and generous to all. We know the doctors involved are doing their best. We must be patient, and we ask everyone else to be patient too. John was going to be a doctor, so this is what he would want."
"We understand many want to know more about his death – we do too – but we ask people to understand that this is the time for our family to grieve in private. Thank you."
Learn more about the individuals who have suffered after taking the coronavirus vaccines by reading the latest articles at Vaccines.news.