The fiancée of ESPN college football reporter Edward Aschoff has shared details about the medical condition that led to his sudden death at 34 on Christmas Eve.
Katy Berteau wrote in a Twitter thread on Aschoff's account that he was admitted to the hospital a week after being diagnosed with multifocal pneumonia. Doctors also diagnosed him with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare autoimmune disorder.
"After many tests - bone marrow and lung biopsies - treatment was started for a presumed diagnosis of HLH, an unregulated, over-activation of the immune system that causes it to attack itself and other healthy tissues,'' Berteau wrote. "Within 3 days of being moved into the ICU, he passed."
HLH usually occurs in infants and young children, but can be caused in adults by many different conditions, including infections and cancer, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Certain white blood cells attack other blood cells, causing symptoms such as an enlarged liver, jaundice, lung problems and nervous system issues.
Aschoff tweeted on Dec. 5 that he was suffering from "multifocal (bilateral) pneumonia" after falling ill following his coverage of the annual rivalry football game between Michigan and Ohio State. Most people recover from pneumonia after several weeks, but the infection kills about 50,000 people a year in the U.S.
Berteau also wrote about Aschoff's spirits in the days before his death.
"I want to share the brightness that he showed, even up until the last day he was awake,'' she wrote. "He kept the doctors and nurses constantly laughing, and always made a point to thank them and tell them what a great job they were doing.
"He also loved Christmas so much that, even from the ICU, he was coordinating with my friend about wrapping my presents so I could be surprised."
Berteau posted a series of heartwarming photos with Aschoff, as well as shots of him with family and friends.
"I couldn’t be more proud that the one thing people are talking about most was his ability to lift them up with his energy, light, and that all-encompassing smile,'' she wrote.
The two were set to be married in April. Aschoff, a University of Florida graduate, had been with ESPN since 2011 covering college football.
"The outpouring of love, admiration, and gratitude for his life have been so incredible, and have helped me through these last few days," Berteau wrote. "It has brought me brief moments of joy in this darkness to see all the pictures, videos, and memories of all the lives he touched."