Wabash Student's Life Saved by Brothersby Frank Phillips, The Paper of Montgomery County • October 12, 2010
A Wabash College student's life was saved by men from his fraternity. It was Friday, October 1, when Mark DePrez, a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, began feeling ill and decided to go to bed.
DePrez is diabetic but assumed his physical ailments were caused by a virus. He did not realize a "perfect storm" was developing that threatened his life.
"There was a kink in my insulin pump, my blood testing meter was giving inaccurate results —everything was going bad at the same time," DePrez said.
Fortunately for DePrez, who is a junior, his fraternity brothers kept looking in on him each hour.
"They called EMS and help put me in a wheelchair so they could get me out of the building," DePrez. "I was taken to the hospital and stayed there until my mom arrived."
DePrez's blood sugar count was 1176. The medical staff later told DePrez many people become comatose when their blood sugar reaches that level.
DePrez and his mother, Mary DePrez, credit Mark's friends with saving his life.
Mary DePrez takes up the story.
"(Mark) has worn an insulin pump since he was 11 years old and while he struggles occasionally with this disease, we have never had any serious issues from it until last weekend," Mary wrote in a letter to Wabash President Pat White. "As a mother of a son with this issue, I always feared him going off to college and would joke with him that I needed to approve of his roommates to insure they would look out for his safety in case his blood sugar dipped seriously low or high.
"Little did I know that would actually be the case. And little did I know that the brothers he has in the Beta house would be the ones to save his life.
"Friday night after dinner Mark started vomiting and thought he had a case of food poisoning after dinner at Subway. He called us at 11 p.m. wondering what he could do to stop the vomiting he was experiencing every 20-30 minutes. Of course, my first response was to ask how his blood sugar was. He said it was running a little high, but nothing out of line. He was giving himself extra insulin and doing frequent blood tests (all the things he should have been doing). My next concern was that he would become dehydrated. I told him to get ice chips and try to sip on those and maybe some type of light beverage as well. His roommate contacted me in the morning to say Mark was sleeping but had been up on and off all night with nausea. The boys were re-filling ice and drinks for him and checking on him every hour or so.
"At 10:30 a.m. the phone rang and it was Mark. He was not himself, slurred his speech, and told me how awful he felt. I knew immediately that his blood sugar was either dangerously high or low and told him to get help immediately and get to the ER. He said he couldn't get off the couch but would find someone in the house. Luckily, a few of his brothers had already called EMS after checking on him right before that and realizing that he was 'out of it.' They called me to tell me that they were with him waiting for EMS to get there. EMS arrived, took him to the Crawfordsville hospital and eventually transferred him to St. Vincent's in Indianapolis.
"Mark is back at Wabash, healthy and fine. I give full credit to the Beta Theta Pi men who followed the Gentleman's Rule: 'The student is expected to conduct himself at all times, both on and off the campus, as a gentleman and a responsible citizen.'"
The Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers who helped save Mark's life included Ben Burkett, Brady Hagerty, Mark Noll, John Jurkash, and John Pennington. The students stayed with Mark while at the local emergency room; traveled to Indianapolis to be with him and his mother; and stayed in contact with Mrs. DePrez while she was en route from her home in Fort Wayne.
Frank Phillips is the editor of The Paper of Montgomery County who routinely reports on the people and events at Wabash College.