Story told by Damien’s mother.
I am Lin Jennings, the mother of Damien Engler. I am sharing Damien’s story because he no longer can.
Damien was living with his long-term partner Hannah, two children from his previous marriage and Hannah’s two children. He was father to all four equally. The main provider for his family, Damien was a cleaner and active in his young children’s lives. He took the first two COVID vaccinations in order to continue volunteering at their school.
He had his first Moderna vaccination on the 18th of January 2022 and the second Moderna vaccination on the 16th of February. After Damien’s second vaccination he experienced violent shaking in his extremities for several hours afterwards. He and his partner Hannah were frightened by this and decided not to have any more, but due to a booster mandate requirement in applying for a new job, he reluctantly decided to get the third. He did not even get to start.
Damien received his Moderna booster vaccine at 10:14am at a Chemist Warehouse in Brisbane on the 21st of October 2022. He experienced pain in his arm within 15 minutes, pain in his shoulder that evening and a general unwell feeling the next day. However, he and Hannah were relieved that he had no repeat of shaking in his extremities.
Damien got up early on the 23rd while Hannah was still asleep. When she woke, she asked the kids where their dad was, and they replied that he’d gone to the toilet. Hannah knocked on the toilet door but received no response. She tried to open the door and through the crack, saw Damien collapsed on the floor unresponsive, with saliva and fluid coming from his mouth. He was blocking the door, so she smashed the door apart to drag him out. Hannah asked their eldest daughter to call 000 while she performed CPR chest compressions on Damien while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
On arrival, paramedics continued with the CPR and administered two bags of fluid and four adrenaline injections in an attempt to revive him. Damien was unresponsive and was declared dead at 10.49am. His young family witnessed everything. Police were called and arrived at 11.19am and were provided with a life extinct form.
Because of his sudden death at just 40 years old, Damien’s body was taken to the Brisbane Coroner’s morgue for investigation. We were told by a coronial nurse that their preliminary examination showed he had an enlarged heart and heavy lungs and that it would be up to 12 months before a formal finding would be made. Damien’s GP advised the Coroner’s office that Damien had no known heart issues, no symptoms and was the healthiest he had seen him in some time.
There is nothing in Damien’s medical history that indicates heart issues. He has been treated previously for adult-onset seizures and pancreatitis. He previously had Type 2 diabetes but had reversed it through a change in diet and significant weight loss around 18 to 24 months ago. At the time of his death, he was taking medicines for the seizures and anxiety and stress, but his conditions were well managed.
Damien’s passing has been devastating. His girls are seeing counsellors to process their grief and trauma at seeing their father dead. Two children and Hannah have had their birthdays without him and another one will have a birthday in a couple of weeks. Damien was sadly missed by family in Christmas celebrations. Damien’s family have serious financial issues and I’m doing my best to support living and learning expenses.