Cause of Benton boy's death not yet determined

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BENTON, Mo. -- On the morning of March 17, Levi Collom, 3, woke up at his home in Benton with a slight fever of around 100 degrees.

"We treated him with Tylenol and Motrin, and he started feeling better," said the boy's mother, Ellie Collom.

Levi; his mother; his father, Glenn Collom; and his big sister, Victoria Collom, went to Cape Girardeau for lunch.

The family ate, and the children played in the indoor playground for two hours, Ellie Collom said. "He had the biggest time."

Everyone went home, and after Levi played in the backyard for a while, he took a nap.

"After about an hour, I went in there and asked him if he was ready to get up," Glenn Collom recalled. "He said: 'No, Dad. I'm still tired.' I went downstairs and heard a noise and it sounded like him getting out of bed. In about a five- or 10-minute time frame, I went back up there and he wasn't breathing."

Collom tried CPR on his son and called 911. Levi was transported to a Cape Girardeau hospital, where staff worked on him for hours.

"They actually got his heartbeat back, but it was medically induced," Ellie Collom said.

Her husband added: "They never could get his lungs to work again."

Levi was transported to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, where staff worked hours to revive him. He was pronounced dead about 6 a.m. March 18.

The Colloms are still waiting for the full autopsy report on their son.

"Levi was a healthy child," Ellie Collom said. "He wasn't sick. He had one febrile seizure when he was 1 1/2 years old."

Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children.

"Febrile seizures aren't alarming or concerning, but to us it was because Glenn used to have seizures," Ellie Collom said. "The normal protocol for the doctor is to say there's no concern in a lot of cases."

However, Levi's mother noted a preliminary study published in the June 2007 Pediatric and Developmental Pathology that looked at five cases of Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood, also known as SUDC, in toddlers who died in their sleep. Four of the children either had history of febrile seizures or a history of febrile seizures in their families.

Collom said she learned about this possible link after searching online and finding The SUDC Program. SUDC is much like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, only for children older than 1.

The online community for SUDC has about 500 members and offers a support group for families whose children die suddenly without explanation.

"I've been on there with a lot of the other moms, and it's the same story of how [Levi and] their children passed," Ellie Collom said. "They just wake up with a fever, and parents give them Motrin or Tylenol. The fever is not enough to be concerned."

Even if the medical examiner finds there's an answer to Levi's death, SUDC is still there to support her family, Ellie Collom said. If the autopsy report comes back with an unexplained cause of death, SUDC will redo the research and study family history to see if anything is comparable, she said.

The Colloms said they realize knowing why Levi died won't bring him back, but they say it could possibly help another family. Researchers could get that much closer to finding out why or how to prevent it, the parents said.

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