Keith Smith, whose wife had gone to court to have his COVID-19 infection treated with ivermectin, died Sunday evening, a week after he received his first dose of the controversial drug.
Smith was in a hospital in Pennsylvania for nearly three weeks and had been in the hospital’s intensive care unit in a medically induced coma on a ventilator since Nov. 21. He had been diagnosed with the virus on Nov. 10.
His wife of 24 years, Darla, had gone to court to compel the hospital, UPMC Memorial, to treat her husband with ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that has not been approved for treatment of COVID-19.
He was 52
York County Court Judge Clyde Vedder’s Dec. 3 decision did not compel the hospital to treat Keith with the drug, but it did allow Darla to have an independent physician administer it. He received two doses before Keith’s condition grew worse, and the doctor halted the treatment.
“Tonight, around 7:45 p.m., my precious husband breathed his last breath,” Darla wrote on the website caringbridge.org.
He died with Darla and their two sons, Carter and Zach, at his bedside. Darla wrote they had time to speak to Keith, separately and as a group, before he passed away. “My boys are so strong,” she wrote. “They are my rock of solace.”
Darla sued UPMC to treat her husband with ivermectin after reading about similar cases throughout the country, all filed by an attorney in Buffalo, N.Y. She was assisted by a group called Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, which promotes the use of ivermectin in the treatment of the virus.
He received his first dose on Dec. 5, two days after Vedder’s decision in the court case. After Keith received a second dose, the doctor overseeing the drug’s administration – a physician not affiliated with UPMC – ended the treatment as Keith’s condition deteriorated.
Darla had written previously that she was unsure whether ivermectin could help her husband, but it was worth a try. The use of the drug was described as “a Hail Mary” intended as a last-ditch effort to save Keith’s life. She would not say whether her husband had been vaccinated.
She was angry with UPMC for refusing to administer the treatment, forcing her to sue, and for delaying the treatment for two days as the hospital grappled with the meaning of the court order while Darla arranged to have an independent nurse administer the drug. Citing privacy laws, UPMC had previously declined to disclose details of the case or Keith’s treatment.
She had kind words for the nurses at UPMC, writing “I still love you.” She wrote, “You cared for Keith for over 21 days. You dosed him with the medicines the doctors prescribed. You cleaned him and groomed him, moved him, propped him up, dealt with every mess, every smell, every trial. Everything. I appreciate you.
“That’s all I’ll say about UPMC at this time,” she wrote. “You’re incredibly lucky to have the nurses you do, jackwads. Treat them better.”
Whether the drug is effective in treating COVID-19 is unproven, and studies cited by its proponents have been dismissed as being biased and including incomplete or nonexistent data.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of the drug to treat COVID-19, and the National Institutes of Health does not recommend its use. It is not included in UPMC’s COVID-19 treatment protocols.
A randomized clinical trial of ivermectin that was conducted in Brazil and presented earlier this year found no significant mortality benefit from taking the drug.