Widow hopes husband’s death leads people to do own vaccine research

Brandon and Jessica Pollet with their 1-year-old daughter.

“Brandon would be so proud of me. I do think that it was our destiny to be together, because I was the one who would have the courage and medical stance to share his story in an impactful way.”

Jessica Pollet became a widow on Jan. 28. Her husband Brandon Pollet died after being diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, following the administration of his second COVID vaccine. The couple has a 1-year-old daughter.

“My purpose in sharing Brandon’s story is not to tell everyone that you’re wrong if you get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated … I want both sides of the story to be known,” Jessica said. “If we had a healthy, young, intelligent, kind, hard-working man with a beautiful family die after getting the vaccine in our community, and the story was spread near and far, we would have most likely not gotten the vaccine based on our own research and hesitations. I think it’s unfair for everyone to push the vaccine so hard but not warn of the adverse effects that are possible.”

Jessica said that she and Brandon were very vocal to doctors that his symptoms started immediately after he was vaccinated.

“There was one doctor, his primary care physician, who said that he thought the vaccine definitely led to what he was suffering with,” Jessica said. “When we would ask the doctors at the hospital their opinion on if the vaccine could have led to his condition, some said it was pure coincidence and others said it was a possible trigger. An overall consensus was that HLH or Stills disease usually has a trigger.”

The couple hesitated to get the COVID vaccines at all, Jessica said.

“When the vaccine first became available, we didn’t really have interest in getting it,” she said. “We knew we were both healthy and would likely fare well if we caught COVID. We would read different things about peoples’ reports of vaccine injuries … but the media was quick to write that off so we didn’t look much more into it. As time passed and the Delta wave emerged, things got confusing for us. A fear was instilled in us. There was this sort of ‘promise’ that if you got vaccinated, you wouldn’t die from COVID. I mean that sounded like a good thing … what we were not informed about was the possibility of dying from getting the vaccine.”

Jessica said she and Brandon both wavered for weeks on whether to get vaccinated.

“One day we would say we weren’t getting it because we read something negative about it, and the next day we decided to get it because maybe the benefit outweighed the risk,” she said. “We went back and forth like this for weeks. So many people were urging others to get the vaccine and people were angry at those who didn’t get it. We couldn’t predict the future. Maybe Brandon would be one of the ones who got extremely sick from COVID … it was all really unknown.”

Jessica said the couple finally decided to get vaccinated.

“We weren’t happy to get it,” she said. “But then again all these people are telling us it’s the right decision, that this is needed. He took the first dose and had a headache that lasted a couple of days.”

When it was time for their second dose, Jessica said she and Brandon were both uneasy.

“I cried on the way to get it,” she said. “I almost didn’t get the second dose, but my thoughts were that it would make life easy to have this vaccine card filled out since mandates were emerging everywhere.”

After his second shot on Aug. 25, 2021, Brandon developed a headache almost immediately.

“We thought nothing of because he had the same symptom last time,” Jessica said. “As the days went on, the headache did not subside and about three days later he developed fever. The fever would get as high as 103F. He felt very fatigued overall.”

A visit to urgent care resulted in Brandon learning he had an enlarged spleen.

“A lot of his lab work was out of normal range, including his white blood cell count and liver enzymes,” Jessica said. “He seen a hematologist a couple times during this period for concerns of cancer, but nothing was ever diagnosed.”

Brandon became more ill over the next couple of months and was eventually hospitalized.

“At a loss, the doctors decided he may have a rare disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis,” Jessica said.

Staff at another hospital later ruled out that diagnosis, and instead diagnosed Brandon with a rare autoimmune disease called Adult Onset Stills Disease.

“Brandon was seen by almost every type of doctor in the hospital and had almost every test run,” Jessica said. “He was stuck for blood hundreds of times. They did a lumbar puncture, bone marrow biopsy, liver biopsy, and so much blood work. Everything was negative. Infectious disease saw him and tested him for all possible infections, but nothing was to be found.”

Brandon was discharged from the hospital and waited for over a month for an immunosuppressant drug to be delivered to his home. For whatever reason, Jessica said, that drug never arrived.

By December Brandon started developing severe fevers again and was again admitted to the hospital.

“His labs were extremely abnormal,” Jessica said. “His white blood cell count was dangerously low, blood clotting numbers dangerously low, liver enzymes elevated, and all inflammation markers, including ferritin, were extremely elevated. After a few days, they decided to diagnose him with HLH. From here, he was started on the 2004 HLH protocol, which included chemotherapy, along with a few other meds.”

As time progressed, Brandon was not getting better.

“There came a point where they decided there was not much more they could offer him in terms of treatment,” Jessica said. “His body started going into liver and kidney failure … his body started shutting down. On January 27 he was discharged to hospice and died the next day.”

Although Brandon asked multiple times, Jessica said, his doctors never reported his case to VAERS.

“I reported the case to VAERs then a few days later I got a response for a ‘STAT: Medical Records request for COVID-19 vaccine recipient,’” she said. “I then got a condolence letter from VAERS and they said they were reviewing the case with his medical team.”

Jessica, who works as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, said she has been on leave but will return to work soon.

“There was definitely a lot of times after Brandon’s death that I didn’t know if I could go back to the medical profession,” she said. “The medical system failed him and our family. Not only did they strongly urge us to get this vaccine, but they didn’t heal him. Looking back at his entire journey in the medical system, there were a lot of missed steps and opportunities that make me sick.”

Jessica said she or a member of Brandon’s family was at his side every day.

“Even being so involved, we had to strongly advocate for Brandon every single day,” she said. “We had to push for treatments, medications, pain relief and just human comfort. Comparing the hospital system from when I worked as an ICU nurse years back, it’s pathetic now. So returning to a hospital has me feeling a little uneasy. How can I participate in such a broken system? But now I know there needs to be people who will stand up in the broken system and advocate for others, especially those who can’t advocate for themselves or have no one to advocate for them.”

Jessica said she has had people from close to home and all the way from Ireland reach out to her since learning about Brandon’s story.

“Among them was a vaccine-injured veteran, a healthy young man who developed neurological symptoms that looked like but wasn’t Gullian Barre, someone who did develop Guillain Barre, a man who had a heart attack and died two weeks after the vaccine, a lady who developed liver failure after the vaccine who was put in a transplant list, and the list could go on and on,” Jessica said. “One lady’s husband was diagnosed with HLH then died one month after receiving the vaccine. She always had a huge suspicion for the vaccine being related to the development of his condition, but the doctors refused to acknowledge it and refuse to give her the medical records.”

Jessica said she hopes Brandon’s story will cause people to do their own research about adverse effects of the vaccine.

“I want everyone to make their own choice … like we did,” she said. “We did make our own choice, but the difference is that we were not informed of the possible adverse effects. I’ve had hundreds of people that I don’t know see my Facebook posts and hear his story … we are reaching people.”

Jessica said she would like to think that all of this happened for a reason.

“This was Brandon’s purpose in life … to help open other’s eyes, to motivate others to do research, to question before complying, to understand what can happen,” she said. “He really wanted his story spread. He wanted to warn every and anyone of what could be possible. We never thought this would be us.”


About Monique Roth 919 Articles
Roth has both her undergraduate and graduate degree in journalism, which she has utilized in the past as an instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University and a reporter at various newspapers and online publications. She grew up in LaPlace, where she currently resides with her husband and three daughters.

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