EXCLUSIVE: Wife of ‘perfectly healthy’ Miami doctor, 56, who died of a blood disorder 16 days after getting Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is certain it was triggered by the jab, as drug giant investigates first death with a suspected link to shot
- Beloved Miami obstetrician Gregory Michael, 56, died following a suspected catastrophic reaction to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, DailyMail.com can reveal
- Heidi Neckelmann says her husband was completely healthy until he had the jab on December 18 at Mount Sinai Medical Center
- He succumbed this week to a stroke brought on by acute IDP – Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura – a blood disorder caused by a lack of platelets
- IDP can be acute or chronic, lasting six months or more, striking on its own or in conjunction with other autoimmune conditions or certain cancers
- Heidi insists, however, that her husband did not have an immune disorder or any similar condition that could have caused ITP
- The mother-of-one said: ‘In my mind his death was 100 percent linked to the vaccine. There is no other explanation’
- She said: ‘My husband had conversations with the doctors who said it was highly probable that the vaccine was the cause’
- If his death is linked directly to the vaccine, Michael would be the first known case in the world of a person dying after the injection
- A spokesman for Pfizer told DailyMail.com the firm was looking into Gregory’s death but they did not believe it had any link to the vaccine
Heidi Neckelmann says obstetrician Gregory Michael, 56 – her ‘best friend’ and partner of 28 years – was active, healthy and had no pre-existing conditions before getting the jab on December 18.
However he died from a stroke Sunday morning after suddenly developing a rare autoimmune illness that causes the body to destroy its own platelets, the tiny fragments that help blood to clot.
Distraught Heidi, 58, thinks the groundbreaking Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine may have somehow been the trigger.
‘In my mind his death was 100 percent linked to the vaccine. There is no other explanation,’ she told DailyMail.com, fighting back tears.
‘He was in very good health. He didn’t smoke, he drank alcohol once in a while but only socially. He worked out, we had kayaks, he was a deep sea fisherman.
‘They tested him for everything you can imagine afterwards, even cancer, and there was absolutely nothing else wrong with him.’
Pfizer told DailyMail.com Wednesday that it was aware of Dr. Michael’s ‘highly unusual’ death and was investigating further.
However a spokesman cautioned: ‘We don’t believe at this time that there is any direct connection to the vaccine.’
Heidi Neckelmann says obstetrician Gregory Michael, 58, was completely healthy until he had the jab on December 18 at Mount Sinai Medical Center, where he works in Miami Beach
Dad-of-one Gregory suffered no immediate reaction to the injection but three days later he was taking a shower and noticed petechiae – spots of red that indicate bleeding beneath the skin – on his feet and hands.
When he checked himself into Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, the hospital where he works and had the groundbreaking vaccine, medics discovered he was suffering from an acute lack of platelets.
‘All the blood results came back normal except for the platelets which came back as zero,’ Heidi said.
‘At first, they thought it must be a mistake. So they did the test again and this time did a manual count which is supposed to be more accurate. This time it showed just one platelet.
‘He felt 100 percent, he was normal, energetic, happy. But they said you cannot go home, this is incredibly dangerous, you could suffer a brain bleed and die.’
Normally doctors would expect a range of between 150,000 to 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.
Their primary function is to help the blood clot and prevent bleeding.
Heidi says doctors tried frantically to reverse what they diagnosed as an acute immune disorder known as ITP – idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.
In people with ITP, also known as severe thrombocytopenia, the immune system mistakes platelets for foreign objects and instructs the spleen to destroy them.
It can be acute or chronic, lasting six months or more, striking on its own or in conjunction with other autoimmune conditions, certain cancers or during pregnancy.
Kids can get ITP after a viral infection such as the flu or mumps, while in adults, triggers can include HIV, hepatitis or H. pylori, a type of bacteria that causes stomach ulcers.
Gregory’s wife insists, however, that had he none of these illnesses.
One solution to ITP is to remove the spleen but Heidi says he wasn’t a candidate because his blood wasn’t able to clot, making the operation too dangerous.
According to a harrowing account posted on his wife’s Facebook, blood tests revealed the popular medic has a platelet count of zero
Neckelmann did not disclose any allergies or pre-existing conditions which may have contributed to her husband’s death
After two weeks of infusions and experimental treatments that failed to raise Gregory’s platelet count, doctors decided they had no choice.
However he died from a hemorrhagic stroke – when blood from an artery bleeds into the brain – before he could undergo the surgery.
‘They gave him medicine. They gave him an incredible amount of platelet infusions, I’m told all the platelets in Miami Dade County,’ Heidi said.
‘But no matter what they did, nothing helped. The blood tests came back with zero platelets every time.
‘My husband had conversations with the doctors who said it was highly probable that the vaccine was the cause.
‘It seems possible to me that somehow it instructed his body to attack the wrong thing, the platelets.’
If Gregory’s fatal condition is traced directly back to the groundbreaking Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, it would be the first known death linked to it.
The jab was heralded as an extraordinary breakthrough in the fight against Covid-19 after it was analyzed by global health bodies in record time and cleared for use in the US one week before Gregory had it.
Instead of a live virus, it uses mRNA, or messenger RNA, which is essentially a set of instructions which tells cells how to produce a spike protein, the same protein which is found on the surface of the coronavirus.
This triggers the immune system to make antibodies against the spike protein so that if the real coronavirus enters the body it can be recognized and destroyed.
‘My husband had a few questions but he’s certainly not anti-vaccine,’ Heidi said. ‘He wanted to protect his patients and his family from Covid. He believed it would be safe.’
She met her husband 28 years ago when they were neighbors and he was in pre-med, about to embark on a successful career as an obstetrician.
Heidi was so smitten she immediately told friends ‘this is the man I’m going to marry.’
‘That’s exactly what happened, we fell in love, we were married for 21 years,’ she recalled, fighting back tears.
‘It was exactly as you see it in the movies, only that doesn’t normally happen in real life. I’m not just saying this because he is dead, but it was the perfect marriage. I cannot think of a time that we fought.
‘He was adored and loved by his patients. He delivered hundreds of healthy, beautiful babies. You have no idea how many texts I have received and the number of people calling me crying. He was just a special soul.’
Heidi said the couple’s 15-year-old daughter is struggling to comprehend that her doting father is gone.
‘They were both musicians. They would play the guitar together. They had the greatest connection ever,’ she added.
‘There is no way I am letting my daughter or anyone else in my family have the vaccine now, not until we know they have ironed out all the bugs and ensured that it’s safe.
‘I don’t want people to get sick from Covid and I’m not against vaccines but we need to slow things down.
‘They are giving this vaccine to some of the most important people, the doctors and nurses that take care of us, as well as the elderly, the most vulnerable.
‘As a doctor my husband would not have wanted anyone to take something that was not safe.’
Pfizer’s jab was licensed on December 11 for anyone aged 16 or older.
The FDA website warns of possible side effects lasting several days, including pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever.
Pfizer’s jab and another from Moderna are the only vaccines cleared for use in US and so far roughly 4.8 million doses have been administered.
Heidi said the couple’s 15-year-old daughter is struggling to comprehend that her doting father is gone. ‘They were both musicians. They would play the guitar together. They had the greatest connection ever,’ she added. ‘There is no way I am letting my daughter or anyone else in my family have the vaccine now, not until we know they have ironed out all the bugs and ensured that it’s safe.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that, to date, only 21 people have suffered severe allergic reactions.
All of those patients are said to have recovered, thanks largely to emergency injections of epinephrine, often given via an EpiPen.
‘Right now, the known and potential benefits of the current Covid-19 vaccines outweigh the known and potential risks of getting Covid-19,’ Dr. Nancy Messonnier, head of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Wednesday.
A spokesman for Pfizer said the company’s immediate thoughts were with the bereaved family.
‘Pfizer and BioNTech are aware of the death of a healthcare professional sixteen days after receiving a first dose of BNT162b2,’ the spokesman said.
‘It is a highly unusual clinical case of severe thrombocytopenia, a condition that decreases the body’s ability to clot blood and stop internal bleeding.
‘We are actively investigating this case, but we don’t believe at this time that there is any direct connection to the vaccine.
‘There have been no related safety signals identified in our clinical trials, the post-marketing experience thus far or with the mRNA vaccine platform.
‘To date, millions of people have been vaccinated and we are closely monitoring all adverse events in individuals receiving our vaccine.
‘It is important to note that serious adverse events, including deaths that are unrelated to the vaccine are unfortunately likely to occur at a similar rate as they would in the general population.’
A spokeswoman for Mount Sinai Medical Center said it was not possible to discuss individual patients.
‘Mount Sinai follows all protocols, guidelines and regulations from all governing agencies and strictly adheres to patient privacy laws and HIPAA guidelines. We cannot confirm or deny information about any patient,’ she said in a statement.
‘To the extent that we are aware of an incident involving any patient, the appropriate agencies are contacted immediately and have our full cooperation.