Erika Langhart – Age 24

Photo Erika 


“What counts in life in not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what Difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we have led.”

Nelson Mandela

Our beautiful, caring, sweet 24-year-old daughter Erika was planning to come home for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 23, 2011. On Monday, November 21, I had just talked to her over the weekend and emailed her to tell her how much her dad and I were looking forward to having her home from where she lived and worked in Washington, DC. That evening I received a call from her phone. I picked up the call, expecting it to be her, and said, “Can’t wait to see you!!!”

Instead it was her boyfriend who told me that Erika had collapsed and was being rushed to the hospital. WHAT? HOW CAN THIS BE? He did not know. Frantically we contacted the emergency room and talked with the ER doctor treating Erika. We learned that she had suffered massive double pulmonary embolisms, literally out of nowhere. One of the very first questions the doctor asked was whether she was on birth control, and if so what type. As soon as the doctors learned that she was using the NuvaRing, they removed it. They told us that we needed to get to the hospital as soon as we could. With just a couple of hours to prepare, we quickly did research on the NuvaRing and were shocked to find that there was a great deal of concern and many incidents of women suffering from blood clots that could then cause embolisms. The NuvaRing was at that moment being studied by the FDA, we learned.

We were able to get on a flight from Phoenix to Washington, DC, at midnight that night. With information printed out on the subject, we spent much of the flight reading about the serious issues of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms as a result of use of the NuvaRing. To say we were terrified for our daughter is an   understatement.

We arrived in Washington, DC, early Tuesday morning and went directly to the hospital. Erika was on life support and in a coma. We spent three torturous days hoping for the best and fearing the worst. The doctors told us that the pulmonary embolisms were a direct result of the NuvaRing. On Thanksgiving morning the neurosurgeon informed us that our sweet daughter Erika was irreversibly brain-dead. That Thanksgiving day we chose, as we knew our caring, wonderful daughter would want us to, to donate her organs – all of which, with the exception of her lungs which were so terribly damaged that they could not be used, ultimately helped other people.

Two weeks after our daughter’s passing we were back in Washington, DC, to speak at the hearings that were ironically and sadly being conducted on these third and fourth generation contraceptives. Our only remaining purpose in life is to try to help Erika’s life make a difference. Thank you for helping us make a Difference.

Karen Langhart

“We must become the change we want to see in the   world.”


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