A Death in Texas
24 hours after entering the E.R., decorated veteran Daniel Wilkinson died of a treatable illness for lack of an ICU bed.
Unprecedented is an ad-free email newsletter from The Daily Edge. It’s absolutely FREE to read and subscribe, although if you would like to select a paid subscription, I certainly welcome the support!
This is the story of two Texas patients. One who fought for our freedoms, serving two deployments in Afghanistan and coming home with a Purple Heart. And one who used his freedoms to become a “Freedom Defender”—leading his local anti-mask, anti-vaccine movement.
When the time came that both of them needed an ICU bed in Texas, only one could have one.
And the one who could have been most easily saved died.
The painful reality of the Abbott Death Panels.
Daniel Wilkinson served two deployments in Afghanistan and came home with a Purple Heart, living in a house “just three doors down” from the local emergency room.
As Lead National Correspondent David Begnaud told CBS This Morning on Friday: “He lives just an an hour and a half down the road from Houston, where they have some of the best medical care in the world, and he lives within yelling distance of the local hospital. But none of that was enough when he started feeling sick and he couldn’t get the medical care he needed to survive.”
Watch Begnaud’s full segment here:
Dr. Hasan Kakli, the local E.R. doctor, was able to diagnose Wilkinson with gallstone pancreatis, a life-threatening but easily treatable condition that in normal times could be handled with minimal fuss.
But these are not normal times. These are the days of a Texas hospital crisis created by Governor Abbott’s lackadaisical response to public health during the Covid-19 pandemic. As Dr. Hakli frantically made calls to hospital after hospital, he realized that while “places had the specialists to do the procedure” Wilkinson needed, “they didn’t have an ICU bed to put him in.”
Desperate to save his patient and knowing that time was running out, Dr. Hakli even took to Facebook. A doctor in Missouri offered to help. A doctor in Austin said he could, also, but then had to withdraw the offer five minutes later when he couldn’t get administrative approval to accept Daniel Wilkinson because that hospital was out of beds.
When a bed finally opened up at the V.A. hospital in Houston, it was too late. As Begnaud reported: “Roughly 24 hours after he walked into the emergency room, Daniel Wilkinson died, at the age of 46.”
As Dr. Hakli told Begnaud, “I’ve never lost a patient from this diagnosis,” adding: “People from all over the world come to Houston to get medical care and, right now, Houston can’t take care of patients from the next town over. That’s the reality.”
Meanwhile, the leader of the Texas “Freedom Defenders” commandeered an ICU bed for weeks.
By the time Daniel Wilkinson entered his local E.R. on August 21, 30-year-old father of three Caleb Wallace had already been “unconscious and heavily sedated at Shannon Hospital in San Angelo, Texas” for nearly two weeks.
As GoSanAngelo.com reports:
On July 4, 2020, Caleb helped organize “The Freedom Rally.” A flyer for the event called it a peaceful protest by people “sick of the government being in control of our lives.” Signs carried by protesters that day criticized the wearing of masks, business closures, the science behind COVID-19, and liberal media.
For three weeks, Caleb’s daughters had a “daily ritual” of calling the hospital for a video call in which they urged their daddy to keep fighting:
They tell Caleb how their day went, how much they love and miss him, and how badly they want him home.
In an update to the story posted the evening of August 27, Caleb’s wife Jessica, currently pregnant with his 4th child, now reports:
“Caleb won’t make it much longer… He will be moved to comfort care tomorrow and I will get to be there with him until it’s his time to return to our father in heaven.”
As Kristen Capps, a staff writer at Bloomberg City Lab tweeted, Caleb’s story is one of “a decent man who became a conduit for incalculable harm against his community, family, and self.”
Caleb’s story is also emblematic of the growing threat unvaccinated Covid patients present to others, like Daniel Wilkinson, who are increasingly being denied medical treatments for lack of hospital space.
Patients like Caleb are also contributing to the increased burnout and despair of nurses and medical workers, many of whom are now quitting due to Covid fatigue.
On Friday night, Mary Trump, niece of the twice-impeached former President, tweeted: “Maybe the media should start reporting on the number of people with treatable non-COVID illnesses who are dying bc the hospitals are full of COVID patients who haven’t been vaccinated.”
“The best healthcare system in the world.”
What’s causing the crisis in American healthcare?
At the start of the pandemic, as Poynter wrote in March 2020, in a segment on his show he called “Facts Over Fear”:
Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity celebrated the (Trump) White House’s response to the novel coronavirus in a recent TV monologue, saying the U.S. health care system is ready for the virus.
Hannity said on his TV show March 16, 2020:
“We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario… The president and his task force confirmed they are. Now, as it stands, our health care system has adequate ventilators, ICU beds, medical professionals and ultimately, like I said, we must prepare for the worst, pray for the best.”
The myth of the “best healthcare system in the world” is one that the GOP, Hannity and Fox News have promoted over the years, while simultaneously trying to deny as many people as possible any access to it.
In the pre-Covid days, Republicans told us that the fictional “Death Panels” that Obamacare would supposedly usher in would be the ultimate symbol of failure in a healthcare system.
But they were silent when Trump brought Death Panels to America in 2020. And again when, by rejecting mask mandates and failing to get his people vaccinated, Greg Abbott ensured their return to Texas in 2021.
The misinformation-fueled tragedy of Covid-19 and the expanding nursing crisis it’s causing are creating more potential danger for people with non-Covid illnesses, even in states not currently overwhelmed by the “MAGA Plague.”
That’s an outcome Sarah Palin once told us would be “downright evil.” And it’s happening now. All because Trump, the GOP and Fox News created a vicious circle of misinformation, disease and death.
It’s a vicious circle that turned the now-dying young father Caleb Wallace into a danger to his family, his community and his country—and contributed to the preventable healthcare crisis that killed Afghanistan veteran Daniel Wilkinson for lack of an ICU bed.
Update: Caleb Wallace died on 28 August 2021, shortly after this article was published.