Matthew Irvin, who died in July at age 26 in his Yamhill County, Oregon, apartment, was listed at the time as the state’s youngest victim of COVID-19.
But a specialized test conducted by the CDC at the request of Irvin’s family confirmed their suspicions: He did not have the virus after all.
“They did blood tests and his white blood cell count was elevated, so they said it looked COVID-like, basically,” Irvin’s mother, Kimberly Irvin, told KGW.com. “From early on, I felt that the COVID diagnosis was incorrect.”
Irvin got suddenly ill before he died, but a coronavirus test at the emergency room was negative. Everyone in his family and other people he had close contact with also tested negative.
The county and state medical examiners’ offices both refused to do autopsies, the state citing short staffing.
The family hired a private pathologist, but that autopsy came back inconclusive, but determined his death involved an issue with his lungs and blood clots.
The county then sent Irving’s lung tissue samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, which found no evidence of COVID-19.
Irving’s death certificate has now been changed and his name has been removed from the state’s COVID-19 death count.
But his family still is left without answers. They want to know whether he could have been saved if doctors had known he did not have coronavirus, and whether others are being affected by similar misdiagnosis.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of people who lost loved ones that are questioning,” Irvin’s stepfather, Michael Laheyne, said.