Scholar sophomore dies after week in allergy-induced coma

Chandler was the 2013 recipient of the Oakland University Huntington Ford Scholarship, a four-year full-tuition scholarship available to an incoming OU freshmen from one of the four Rochester area high schools.  It is awarded on the basis of “good citizenship…financial need, a passion for a particular subject matter or extracurricular activity and a minimum 3.30 GPA,” according to Oakland University’s website. 

By Oona Goodin-Smith

UPDATE (11/28): A visitation for the Swink family will be held this Sunday, Nov. 30 from 2-8 p.m. at Lynch and Sons Funeral Home on 1368 Crooks Road, Clawson, MI 48017. His obituary can be found here.

The funeral will be held on Monday, Dec. 1, with a viewing at 10:00 a.m. and mass at 11:00 a.m. at St. Thomas More, located at 4580 N. Adams Road, Troy, MI 48098.

Donations can still be made to the family at http://www.gofundme.com/hpczrc. At press time, the fund had raised over $54,000 in five days. 

UPDATE (11/26): Chandler Swink was pronounced dead at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26. The Oakland Post will continue to update as more information and arrangements become available. If you would like to share your memories of Chandler, please contact Editor-in-Chief Oona Goodin-Smith at [email protected]

“No matter the time or where he was, he would come to my side,” freshman Julia Douglas said about her close friend, Chandler Swink, an OU sophomore, Huntington Ford scholar and aspiring nursing student.

Tonight, the Swink family asks that the Oakland University community be at their side as they decide whether to take their 19-year-old son, brother, cousin and nephew off of life support.

Chandler, diagnosed with a level six severe nut allergy since age 2, has been in a coma in intensive care at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac since Tuesday, Nov. 18 after suffering a severe allergic reaction.

“It’s been tough on all of us the past few days,” said Chandler’s cousin, Mike. “It’s brought our family closer but we miss him so much.”

Chandler’s mother, Nancy, told The Oakland Press that Chandler was at a friend’s apartment, someone baked peanut butter cookies, and he either ate food that came in contact with the cookies or someone who was contaminated by peanut residue touched him.

As he began to react, Chandler went to his car to inject himself with an EpiPen and drove to the hospital.

“When he got [to the hospital] at 12:35 a.m., he dropped…outside the hospital,” said Mike. “He was supposedly dead for twenty minutes, but he’s a fighter, always has been.”

According to the Press, Chandler was found unconscious around 1 a.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland.

“Even in high school, he was always very cautious, checking packages and reading labels [to check for nuts],” said longtime friend and classmate Kaitlyn Martin.

Chandler, an Avondale High School graduate, is the 2013 recipient of the Oakland University Huntington Ford Scholarship, a four-year full-tuition scholarship available to an incoming OU freshmen from one of the four Rochester area high schools.  It is awarded on the basis of “good citizenship…financial need, a passion for a particular subject matter or extracurricular activity and a minimum 3.30 GPA,” according to Oakland University’s website.

A once-aspiring nursing student, Chandler now has no brain activity and is hooked to a machine for oxygen.

Mitch Yencha, a friend of the Swink family, has started a fundraiser at gofundme.com/hpczrc to help pay for Chandler’s medical expenses.

“It’s too much for one family to handle,” Yencha told the Press. “I can’t take away the emotional pain, but maybe financially, I can help.”

“The original goal was $10,000, but since the support was so overwhelming, they raised the goal to $100,000,” said Martin.

At press time, the fund had raised over $22,000 within three days.

“His dad just had to have a kidney transplant and the family doesn’t have health insurance, so they’ve had a lot of medical costs recently,” Martin said.

“It’d be really nice to get some money to support the family with medical bills and all the other expenses that may come up,” said Mike.

“He’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had,” said Martin. “His laugh could make anyone smile even on the worst days and he would give anything to help someone.”

All donations can be contributed via www.gofundme.com/hpczrc.

The Oakland Post will continue to monitor and update Chandler’s story.