Carl’s Story: Remembering Our Son During U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week

Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog
Chris & Joyce Romm
Chris and Joyce Romm traveled to Washington, D.C., in April as part of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Supermoms Against Superbugs initiative. They shared their son Carl’s story with policymakers and urged continued support for programs essential to the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Guest Author: Chris and Joyce Romm

Every year in the United States, at least 23,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant infections. Our son – Carl – was one of them.

Carl was our first child, and it’s hard to put into words just how special he was. He was ambitious and caring. Curious and adventurous. He could do anything he put his mind to.

Like all parents, we wanted to do everything we could to keep our children safe as they were growing up. With every flip off of the trampoline or jump into the river, we got a few more gray hairs. And when Carl decided to join the Army, we of course worried about what enlisting could mean. But, of the countless potential scenarios that kept us up nights over the course of Carl’s life, the dangers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria never even crossed our minds. Not once.

It was just two short months from when Carl first saw a doctor for his illness to the day he died from complications related to numerous antibiotic-resistant infections. He was just 27, and had been strong and healthy his whole life before the infections started.

It is still hard to believe that he’s gone. It’s still shocking that there was not an antibiotic, or any combination of antibiotics available, that could keep his infections at bay. It’s still incredibly difficult to talk about.

But, helping to raise awareness about antibiotic resistance and educating others about what’s at stake has helped us to cope, and to make some meaning out of our family’s tragedy.

This U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch the below video about Carl’s experience, and learn more about what you can do to support the fight against superbugs. The grave reality is that what happened to Carl could happen to any one of us, and our sincere hope is that by sharing his story, we might help save lives and spare other families – your sons and daughters – from what we’ve been through.

View the video: Parents Remember Army Vet’s Battle with Antibiotic Resistance

Chris and Joyce Romm live in Sparks, NV. As part of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Supermoms Against Superbugs initiative, they share their son Carl’s story to draw greater attention to the need for new antibiotics, increased research, and the proper use of these drugs in all settings.

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Posted on by CDC's Safe Healthcare Blog

3 comments on “Carl’s Story: Remembering Our Son During U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week”

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    A very touching story. My condolences to the family. It is a great step to create awareness as it is true that many people are not aware of such an infection. I was reading an article on ( on antibiotic-resistant infections. There have been many cases wherein people have lost their lives. Thank you for sharing the story.

    My heart goes out to Carl’s family. In 9/2011 I had a total hip replacement. In 2014 I came down with what I thought was the flu. After 3 weeks I went back to Doctor & told ” I wasn’t getting better”. He “asked” if I had a fever”? I told ” I always had the chills growing up & that was a symptom”. I was told ” it was a virus & had to wait it out”. No labs were done. Three days later I was going into septic shock. I was in hospital 15 days. No Doctor ever mentioned sepsis & warning signs after hip replacement up to my 15 day stay in hospital. It took a year to get my strength back. I was determined to educate myself about this & other antibiotic resistant bacteria. When I heard Carl had the “chills” it brought the fact that a lot of Drs. think a person has to run a “high” fever for infections. So wrong & so inexcusable ! We have to educate & advocate for ourselves. Family members also. It gives me some comfort in knowing Carl had family with him. I would like to tell his parents “that the both of you gave him a comfort no medicine could”. I went thru it alone. Sorry abut your loss.

    Very moving story.
    I worry about some biological warfare ,where his finger was amputated, and the sterile conditions.
    Patients should always be made aware of the process about taking their medications and finishing the dose even though they may feel better. Doctors should be careful about the antibiotics they prescribe for a given bacterial infection. We need to be vigilant when a cough persists and not wait too long to be treated or seen by a physician. I appreciate all the efforts by this family and sympathize with the loss of their son.
    Thank you for his service to our country.

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Page last reviewed: November 20, 2017
Page last updated: November 20, 2017