Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BYU student, LDS seminary teacher watches son's birth before succumbing to sudden illness

By Emiley Morgan, Deseret News

Published: Sat, Dec. 14 10:00 p.m. MST

 Erica Robison holds her newborn son, Logan. Robison's husband, Josh, 24, died Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, due to complications from a heart infection.

Erica Robison holds her newborn son, Logan. Robison's husband, Josh, 24, died Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, due to complications from a heart infection.

(Family photo)

FILLMORE — Jodi Robison can tell you in great detail about what led to the death of her 24-year-old son, but even with a detailed timeline and all the facts in the world, it's difficult to make sense of it.

One moment, Josh Robison merely had a headache. Two weeks later, he was gone — killed by an infection that made its way to his heart and then his brain. He leaves behind a wife and newborn son.

Jodi Robison tells the story almost breathlessly, urgently, her voice quavering. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, Josh started to complain of a headache. Soon after, he started to vomit.

But he needed to get back to his wife, Erica, who was carrying the couple's first child. And he was anxious to get back to school — he was a student at BYU — and to his job teaching LDS seminary classes at Lone Peak High School.

"He never did go back to school or work," Jodi Robison said.

He visited a medical clinic on Dec. 3, thinking he had the flu, and he was given medicine to treat it. By Dec. 6, he wasn't feeling any better.

Josh Robison was at his in-laws' home doing laundry when his father-in-law noticed his wrist was swollen. Jodi Robison said she called her family's primary care physician, who said her son need to get to an emergency room immediately.

By the time Josh Robison arrived, he had acute onset delirium.

"He didn't know where he was. He couldn't put words together. He answered questions funny," Jodi Robison said. "They told us we better come."

By the time she arrived from Fillmore, her son had been rehydrated, his temperature had lowered and his swelling had gone down. After some blood tests and a spinal tap, "they knew he had an infection — and a serious one," Jodi Robison said.

Josh Robison was admitted to the hospital and treated for both viral and bacterial infections until the source of the problem was located, an infection on the mitral valve in his heart.

"Because of the danger of having an infection on your heart — it's pumping bacteria in your bloodstream on every beat — he had emergency open heart surgery Monday," Jodi Robison said.

The procedure went well, despite warnings that he was high risk. Josh Robison got out of the intensive care unit faster than was expected and he was well enough to leave his room and venture to that of his wife, who was in labor.

"He was in the room when his son was born, and he got to hold him," Jodi Robison said.

Already "weak and sick," Josh Robison reported soon after that he had a painful headache. His surgeon was called, and fearing it signaled something was wrong, a CAT scan was ordered.

"They wheeled him out of the room, and he said, 'Back in a minute,'" Jodi Robison said. "They announced over the intercom and I heard 'code blue.' The nurse ran in and said, 'You better go in there. I'm sure it's Josh.' He had coded on the CT table."

Medical personnel performed CPR and found a bleed on the left side of Josh Robison's brain. They took him immediately into surgery and were able to clean up the bleeding, but the brain had already started to swell.

"Josh never regained consciousness," Jodi Robison said, adding that the swelling never stopped and eventually cut off blood and oxygen to his brain stem. "It was obvious that no matter what they did, it was irreversible. If he did live, it wouldn't be the Josh that we knew."

The family discussed, prayed and ultimately surrounded Josh Robison as he was taken off of a ventilator. Jodi Robison said her son slipped away peacefully Friday.

"He exemplified who he was to the very end of his life," she said. "Every nurse that came in or tech that came in to take care of him — whether they poked him or drew blood — he called them by name. … And he always thanked them.

Josh Robison served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines, his mother said. Josh and Erica Robison had been married about 18 months. They named their little boy Logan.

"He loved the gospel, he loved his family, he loved his students, he loved sports. That was my son," Jodi Robison said.

A fundraising effort has been set up for the family on the website Give Forward. More than $24,000 had already been raised as of Saturday night.

"This is without question the most difficult experience of my life, but it has warmed my heart to be so overwhelmed with love and support from friends and strangers alike," Erica Robison said in a statement Saturday. "I see so many people wanting to serve in so many ways. The financial support will help ensure that Logan will get an education and everything else he needs, but what will really bless and heal our hearts is the outpouring of thoughts, prayers and messages of love. We are so thankful."

Email:, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

Related Stories
1. UteNationAlum
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
Dec. 14, 2013

Wow, this just made me so sad! I feel so bad for this family. He obviously had finished his mission here on this earth. Sounded like an amazing person. I pray you can find peace!

2. happytobehere
Fillmore, Utah,
Dec. 14, 2013

I am so, so very sorry that his happened to your family. I wish there was some way to absorb part of your pain. I wish that when things like this happen we could share the hurt so that it doesn't have to be borne by just a few. I am sending as much love as I can, being just a stranger on a computer. I am so sorry.

3. ElJefeOcho
Dec. 14, 2013

Erica grew up with my daughters in Virginia. She is as sweet, kind, spiritual and wonderful as any parent could hope for. Now at 23 years old she is both a new mother and a widow... all within 24 hours. Although I never got to meet Josh, I'm sure he was the same type of person. My heart breaks for both Erica, as well as Josh's family. I hope people will join me in contributing to the fund linked in the story... which will help pay for his funeral and assist Erica as she deals with this ordeal.

4. Kjulep
Honolulu, HI,
Dec. 15, 2013

I personally know Josh Robison or Elder Robison. I met him in the Philippines as a missionary sharing the teaching of Jesus to every families: he walk under the hot tropical weather of our town along with his companion just to fulfill their mission. He is very gregarious, generous and hilarious person. I didn't see any cultural shock in him when I first saw him: he's fluent in Filipino, and he participated to our native practices without hesitation. I remember the time he treated our neighborhood with a pizza and the time and the time he showed us his hometown through Among all the LDS missionary that was assigned in our ward, he is the only one who was assigned twice to our ward; in fact, his last ward was our place. I may not be a member of LDS but, I fully known Elder Robison. It is very shocking to here about this news this morning. I'm fully certain that he's with God. Rest in Peace Elder and Condolence to the bereaved family.

5. Lilalips
Attleboro, MA,
Dec. 15, 2013

God bless and give peace to his family. I'm so sorry for such a loss. He sounds like a wonderful person. Such sadness and love in life.